By R.A.B.I Regional Manager, Becky Davies
“The idea to walk up the highest part of ‘The Big One’ was a suggestion from Shropshire R.A.B.I supporter, Lilian Morris. People such as Lilian support the R.A.B.I partly because we organise fun events within the community, but also because they know that the money raised is going to be spent supporting farming people within that community.
“I enthusiastically agreed to the challenge. Partly because it seemed like a fun, but slightly daunting, way to raise money for R.A.B.I, but also because it was something a bit different! I wanted to maximise the uniqueness of this event, so when David Fellows from the West Midlands area of Young Farmers suggested conquering the big one in YELLOW wellies to highlight the farm safety campaign, it made me think…
“If you shake hands with my dad, you might have notice that he has no right thumb. One day last year he was tipping a trailer load of stone onto a track that extends to the boundary of our farm. Dad placed both his hands at the end of the trailer whilst checking how much of the load was left to tip, when the tail gate shut, trapping both his hands. He was unable to free either of his hands so could not get to the controls for the trailer or use his mobile to get help.
“It upsets me to think about how much pain and panic he would have been in at this point. Dad was working on his own at one of the most outer reaches of our farm when he had the accident, a long way from the buildings and the others who work on the farm.
“Thankfully our cowman happened to be going down the farm lane to do some fencing, and heard dad’s cries for help. Both of dad’s hands were damaged, but the right thumb was a complete mess and it was very obvious that it had to be amputated.
“If you have met my dad you would know that he is not a reckless, risk taker… in fact, far from it. You will know this if you get stuck behind his little van on the roads of rural Shropshire! My dad’s accident is part of a high number of accidents that happen on farms. Farmers are over represented in statistics about accidents at work. You might align this to the animals or machinery that they work with, but one of the most dangerous elements of the job is the amount of lone working that farmers do.
“We have jokes and always try to look at the positive side of things (as is human nature) after the accident, operation and subsequent recovery period. Our local Vicar jested that she would have to greet Dad with a ‘high four’ in the future instead of a high five. It doesn’t take much to imagine how things could have been much more severe and Dad himself will often tell people that the incident could have been a lot worse. And if my family’s circumstances had been different, we could have been recipients of R.A.B.I. support.
“Thankfully my uncle and cousins were on hand to run the farm whilst dad was off work recovering from the amputation, and he could afford to take the time out. But did you know that R.A.B.I. can help with the cost of relief staff if someone is unable to work on the farm due to illness or injury. There are many other ways that we can help farmers who have suffered after an accident. For example we can help with specialist disability equipment, assist people applying for disability benefits such as disability living allowance or attendance allowance. R.A.B.I. can also support widows or other dependants of farmers.
“There are lots of messages I could leave you with, including the wonders of the NHS, the kindness of neighbours, friends and family; but mostly how incredibly lucky I feel. I feel lucky because my dad got through the accident with only amputated thumb, but also lucky that R.A.B.I. are there to support farming people in need – if our family circumstances were different and if the circumstances of the accident are different it is reassuring to know that they would have been there to reach and support us.”