The Farming Community Network (FCN) has teamed up with the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust (NFST) to launch a new scholarship aimed at supporting the health and wellbeing of people in the farming community.

The FCN/Len’s Light Nuffield Farming Scholarship will sponsor Nuffield scholars focusing on topics that support people in farming and rural communities; help to address issues of loneliness and isolation; explore health inequalities in farming/rural communities; or encourage a positive mindset and help to build resilience.

It is hoped the findings and recommendations of this scholarship will help to create further support across the agricultural sector and generate conversations, whilst also reducing stigma around mental health and wellbeing.

The scholarship is inspired by Warwickshire farmers Andy and Lynda Eadon, who lost their son Len to suicide in January 2022.

They have since made it their mission to raise awareness of the challenges of mental health in rural and farming communities and to ensure that nobody feels alone, the FCN said.

Applications for the FCN/Len’s Light Nuffield Farming Scholarship are open to Nuffield students from across the UK. The deadline for applications is July 31, 2024.

The Eadons’ national Len’s Light campaign has been raising funds for the FCN, Yellow Wellies and PAPYRUS – Prevention of Young Suicide.

Andy and Lynda Eadon said they have become passionate to engage, particularly with young people in the rural community, since the loss of their son.

“We continually talk about ‘positive’ mental health to try to reduce the stigma that the words ‘mental health’ have,” they said.

“No one in the rural community should feel alone and isolated, and this new scholarship has the ability to shine a light brighter and wider on the complex issues that impact on everyone’s mental health.

“We would like to thank FCN and the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust for highlighting these issues and for acknowledging Len’s Light, and thus contributing to the legacy we are trying to leave in his name.””

Director of Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust, Rupert Alers-Hankey, said mental health and wellbeing is consistently cited as one of the biggest challenges facing the agricultural industry.

“FCN are well known for the support they offer the farming community in difficult times, and we are proud of the role that Jude McCann NSch and his own scholarship has played in its success,” he said.

“We hope that the FCN/Len’s Light Nuffield Farming Scholarship will help build further knowledge and pave the way for positive change in this area.”