The parents of a 22-year-old farmer who took his own life are urging young people in a similar situation to seek help and support.
Leonard Eadon, of Napton, Warwickshire, died on January 1, 2022.
His parents and friends say Len had been in good shape over the holiday season, enjoying life with no outward signs of trouble.
“He came home at 4am on New Year’s Eve,” says Len’s father, Andy.
“I saw his headlights, waited for him to get out of his vehicle, looked out the bedroom window and wished him a happy new year.
“We had a friendly chat and he went out again. Unfortunately, he never came back. “
See also: Where Farmers in Need Can Find Charitable Aid
Check out Len’s story and read the rest of the report below.
A Harper Adams graduate, Len’s first love has always been agriculture, says his mother, Lynda.
He helped with the family’s sheep scanning business and was recently offered an interview to become a business consultant.
On New Year’s Day, Andy and Lynda were scanning sheep 20 miles away in Towcester.
They had left the back door open so that Len could enter when he got home. Instead, they got a phone call from the police.
“The police told us to get home as soon as possible, so we knew something was wrong,” says Andy.
“It was a return trip. We met the police outside the house and I just said, ‘I think you have bad news for us.’ “
Popular at university, with other young farmers and in the local rural community, Len had a number of hobbies including playing drums, sports, and clay pigeon shooting.
He also liked mechanics and had rebuilt a Land Rover with best friend Chris Kirkham.
Friend Charlotte White says Len entered her life “at full throttle” as a tenant during her year of placement at Harper Adams.
Despite her chaotic attempts at home cooking, she says the scruffy moments together from laughter left her begging Len to stay when her year was up.
“Len was the most selfless, generous and kind-hearted person I knew. He heated every room he walked into.
“Any problem, big or small, would be there to laugh with you or to listen intently and try to help put things into perspective.
“He will be remembered as a true gentleman and the most wonderful and kind human being – nothing but an absolute delight.”
But farmers and other rural men are less likely to seek help when they struggle to make it, according to a Samaritan poll.
Only 43% of men in rural areas said they would talk to someone compared to 51% of urban men and 60% of rural women.
But help is available. The results come as Samaritans launches a new phase of its Real People campaign, Real Stories, supported by the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, which aims to prevent men in rural communities from reaching the hotspot.
The campaign is highlighting positive stories that have been found to support others who are struggling.
It includes the experiences of rural men who have gone through difficult times to demonstrate the power they can have to speak and listen.
NFU Mutual chairman and Scottish farmer Jim McLaren says, “As a farmer, I am all too aware of how isolation is affecting rural communities. The feelings of uncertainty and overwhelming change have really tested our mental health. “
Clients are telling NFU Mutual that rural isolation, loneliness and anxiety are on the rise, adds McLaren.
“Finding a safe, non-judgmental space to explore their feelings could be a person’s first step on their journey to take care of their recovery.”
Harper Adams is also highlighting the help available. Vice Chancellor Ken Sloan says, “We have been in contact with Len’s family the entire time, both to express our condolences and to keep them updated on the work we have done – and will continue to do – at the university.
“Students from all walks of life and students from across our community have contacted us to access and offer help.
“We are working with them to help remove barriers that could prevent people from accessing the help they need.”
When life is difficult, the Samaritans are here, day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them free at 116 123, email email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
Who to contact for help
Support for farmers and other people working in agriculture is available from the Farming Community Network (FCN), which operates a confidential helpline.
More than 6,000 people each year benefit from the helpline. It is made up of volunteers who provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone you call.
“We support people when they are going through tough times,” says Barbara Clutton, FCN’s trustee.
“The farming community is a strong community and it really comes together when things are tough, and we are the support.”
The changes in agriculture mean that people on farms work long hours, often alone, says Reverend Clutton, who is also a farm chaplain and rural officer in Warwickshire. “The typical family farm isn’t always there.”
The FCN is partnering with the National Federation of Young Farmers and the DPJ Foundation on the Rural + initiative to raise awareness of mental health problems in rural areas and equip rural youth with the skills to manage their mental well-being.
“We don’t push our faith on people,” says Reverend Clutton. “But people understand that because we have faith, we are trustworthy people who can help others.
“The main thing is that the young farmers arriving now are learning to talk to each other more.”
To speak to a sympathetic person who understands agriculture and rural life, contact the farming community network on 03000 111 999, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fcn.org.uk . Calls are answered from 7:00 to 23:00 every day
Celebration of Len’s life
A celebration of Leonard Eadon’s life will take place on Sunday 5th June at Stoneleigh Park Estate, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
Focused on farming in the community, the special charity fundraiser will include a masked scarecrow competition and various sports, with an agricultural cut. There will be food and music.
More than £ 20,000 has already been raised for three charities: the Farming Community Network; Yellow Wellies Farm Safety Campaign; and the Papyrus charity, which works to prevent young suicides.
The day was designed to bring the entire community together with Len’s friends and family, while raising money for good causes.
“We want it to be a day of fun, challenge and reflection to celebrate Len’s life,” say her parents, Lynda and Andy. “Len is much loved and will always be remembered. We couldn’t be more proud of him ”.