Posted 14 July
“We should ensure that those around us know they are not alone. Where we know that people live or work in isolated areas, we can reach out and break the silence so that those we care about know they are not alone. This is particularly vital in the farming, agricultural and veterinary communities. The University is committed to shining Len’s Light and sharing its important message with our students and alumni in the years ahead."
A tractor relay acting as a beacon of hope in memory of a Harper Adams graduate has been welcomed to the University’s campus.
The Len’s Light relay was set up by Lynda and Andy Eadon, the parents of Len Eadon, from Napton on the Hill in Warwickshire.
Len graduated from his Rural Enterprise and Land Management degree at Harper Adams in 2021 and was a well-liked member of the University community.
On January 1, 2022, Len took his own life, and in his memory, his parents have worked to raise funds for rural mental health charities and to ensure that people in farming communities feel they can talk about any issues they are facing.
In 2023, their efforts have been focused upon the Len’s Light tractor relay, which is taking Len’s parents and their message right across Great Britain, from John O Groats to Land’s End, with a tractor specially adapted to carry a beacon in memory of Len.
The relay’s route takes in farmers’ markets, country shows, the Houses of Parliament, the Farmers’ Club, Harper Adams and more.
The aim of every single stop is to raise awareness and ensure that no-one in the rural community feels isolated or alone.
During the visit to Harper Adams, Andy and Lynda spoke with University employees and their families, offering youngsters tractor rides and talking about Len, his time at university, and the changes they want to see in the way people in rural communities approach mental health issues
Joana Da Silva, Head of Student Services at Harper Adams, and Professor Ken Sloan, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, led the welcome to the university campus on Sunday.
Jo said: “Over the past 18 months Andy and Lynda have helped shaped the direction of some of the work which we are doing in terms of helping students who may be at key transition points to build their resilience and look after their mental health, and to shift the conversation to one around positive mental health.
“Working with them, we have also built even closer connections with charities like the Farming Community Network, Yellow Wellies and Papyrus – and we will be forever thankful to them for their help and for their support.
“Similarly, we also had conversations with students and alumni about the impact of Len’s passing - and as a result they, too, have also started to contribute to the discussion of mental health support at Harper Adams.
"This is Len’s precious legacy at Harper Adams.”
And Ken added: “Len is much missed by his fellow students, alumni and my colleagues at Harper Adams.
“Andy and Lynda have shown such selflessness and courage in highlighting the need to talk openly about suicide, and what steps can be taken by everyone to try and prevent it. We are grateful to them and proud to support them.
“We should ensure that those around us know they are not alone. Where we know that people live or work in isolated areas, we can reach out and break the silence so that those we care about know they are not alone. This is particularly vital in the farming, agricultural and veterinary communities.
“The University is committed to shining Len’s Light and sharing its important message with our students and alumni in the years ahead."
Funds raised during the journey will be going to three charities – Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide, the Farming Community Network, and the Farm Safety Foundation’s Yellow Wellies campaign.
Lynda said: “It has been really amazing, and it has been building momentum as we make our way down through the county.
“Scotland was fabulous, and the markets along the way have been tremendous. Every day is completely different, and we are just taking it one day at a time. This is day 19 of the journey, and those weeks have gone by in a flash.
“Coming back to Harper was hard, but it is a special place. We have got very good connections here, and are always going backwards and forwards talking with Jo and Ken about things.”
Andy told those who had gathered for the event how, during the three weeks that the tractor has already been making its way across the country, he had met with politicians at the Houses of Parliament, as well as working with charities such as Papyrus, to make sure that the rural community discusses issues around suicide and mental health.
He added: “Technically, we finish at Lands’ End on July 20 – but that is not the end of the journey. We’ll keep working on this important cause.”
Harper Adams University works with Health Assured to provide an enhanced Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).
The programme allows employees to directly access counselling, legal information and advice on debt, work, lifestyle addictions and relationships.
Contact details are shared with employees every week through an internal newsletter. Employees also receive wellbeing support from line managers and our Chaplaincy, HR and Mental Health First Aid teams; in addition to occupational health services provided by Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust.
We all have mental health and we encourage our students to reach out if they are experiencing any difficulties.
It’s important to look after our mental health just as we do our physical wellbeing. You may be a student at the start or end of your student journey, or somewhere in between, or a member of the wider university community.
You may feel you can talk to friends, your course team, colleagues and or your GP - but the important thing to remember is no problem is too small and it can help to talk things through.
It is never too late to let someone know how you are feeling and asking for help.
At University, specialist support can be offered via self-referral to the wellbeing team, by accessing the Student Assistance Programme or talking to one of the Mental Health First Aiders.
Sometimes, online can be a good place to start to find out what other support is out there, and there is plenty:
Samaritans 116 123 listening service 24/7