Twenty-year-old Robyn Hogg (pictured) grew up on her parents’ 260-hectare arable farm in Cramlington, Northumberland. She is currently studying at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester and suffers from epilepsy, a condition she has lived with for more than 10 years. It means she cannot drive and sometimes struggles to get farm jobs done because of fatigue.
However farming is in her blood and something she wants to make a career out of. Six generations of her family have worked the land that she still calls home.
Robyn said: “I am happiest when I am covered in mud and itching with dust rash! My illness is a lot like farming, it comes with daily challenges that you have to overcome, but my parents and I have worked really hard to make sure I can still enjoy a career in agriculture.
“I am always on my guard about having a seizure but you learn to live with it and I cannot imagine another way of life, even if there may be easier options out there.”
Because of her epilepsy, Robyn receives the Personal Independent Payment (PIP) – which she says is a particular help with transport costs. However, in April 2018, with no prior warning, her money was stopped.
“It was very sudden and very dramatic, all I received was a generic letter,” explained Robyn. “It made me feel like the Government wasn’t recognising my disability anymore, like I wasn’t disabled enough, even though they recognised that I couldn’t drive.
“When the payments stopped we tried contacting a few organisations but they weren’t that helpful. I hadn’t heard of R.A.B.I but my mother and boyfriend had. I was interested to read about what you do.
“Straight away, people were caring and lovely and a chap called Tom came out to see me in August.”
Robyn, with Tom’s help, successfully appealed against the decision to stop her benefit. Not only did she start receiving her regular allowance again, it was also backdated to April.
Robyn added: “Having Tom on our side was such a big thing. Whenever we got a letter or an email we could just forward it to him and he would tell us what we needed to do. He was very caring. It sounds strange but the best thing for me was that it helped to keep mum calm, so we knew what we had to do and didn’t end up arguing. Now I think everyone needs a Tom in their life!”