Video: Son’s death leads family to back mental health charity

The parents of a 22-year-old farmer who took his own life are urging youngsters facing a similar situation to seek help and support.

Leonard Eadon, from Napton, in Warwickshire, died on 1 January 2022.

His parents and friends say Len had been on good form throughout the festive season – enjoying life with no outward signs of any struggles.

“He came home at 4am on New Year’s Day,” says Len’s father, Andy.

“I saw his headlights, waited for him to get out of his vehicle, leaned out of the bedroom window and wished him 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 charity help

Watch Len’s story and read the rest of the report below.

A Harper Adams graduate, Len’s first love always was farming, says his mother, Lynda.

He helped out with the family’s sheep scanning business and had recently been offered an interview to become a farm business consultant.

On New Year’s Day, Andy and Lynda were scanning sheep 20 miles away at Towcester.

They had left the back door open so Len could let himself in when he arrived home. Instead, they received 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 one heck of a drive back. We met the police outside the house and I just said: ‘I think you’ve got bad news for us’.”

Full throttle

Popular at university, with other young farmers and in the local rural community, Len had a range of hobbies including drumming, sports and clay pigeon shooting.

He also enjoyed 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 lodger during his Harper Adams placement year.

Despite his chaotic attempts at home cooking, she says the laugh-out-loud times they spent together left her begging Len to stay when his year was up.

“Len was the most selfless, generous and kind-hearted person I knew. He warmed any room he walked into.

“Any problem, great or small, he would be there to either laugh along with you – or to listen with intent and try to help put things into perspective.

“He will be remembered as a true gentleman and the most wonderful, kind-hearted human – nothing but an absolute delight.”

But farmers and other rural men are least likely to seek help when struggling to cope, according to a survey by the Samaritans.

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 findings come as Samaritans launches a new phase of its Real People, Real Stories campaign, supported by the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, which aims to prevent men in rural communities from reaching crisis point.

Len Eadon © Eadon family

Positive stories

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 overcome tough times to demonstrate the power that talking and listening can have.

NFU Mutual chairman and Scottish farmer Jim McLaren says: “As a farmer myself, I’m all too aware of how isolation is affecting rural communities. Feelings of uncertainty and overwhelming change have really challenged our mental health.”

Customers are telling NFU Mutual that rural isolation, loneliness and anxiety are on the rise, adds Mr McLaren.

“Finding a safe, non-judgmental space to explore their feelings could be a person’s first step on their journey to looking after their recovery.”

Harper Adams is also highlighting available help. Vice-chancellor Ken Sloan says: “We’ve been in contact with Len’s family throughout, both to express our sympathies and to keep them updated about 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 reached out to us to both access and offer help.

“We are working with them to help remove the barriers that may prevent people from accessing the help they need.”

When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

Where to turn for help

Support for farmers and other people in agriculture is available from the Farming Community Network (FCN), which operates a confidential helpline.

More than 6,000 people every year benefit from the helpline. It is staffed by volunteers who provide free, confidential, pastoral and practical support to anyone who calls.

“We support people when they are going through tough times,” says FCN trustee Barbara Clutton.

“The farming community is a strong community and really does come together when things are tough – and we’re the support.”

Changes in agriculture mean people on farms work long hours – often on their own, says Reverend Clutton, who is also an agricultural chaplain and rural officer in Warwickshire. “The typical family farm is not always there.”

The FCN is working with the National Federation of Young Farmers and the DPJ Foundation on the Rural+ initiative to raise awareness of rural mental health issues and equip rural young people with the skills to manage their mental wellbeing.

“We don’t push our faith on people,” says Rev Clutton. “But people understand that because we have a faith, we are trustworthy people who can help others.

“The main thing is that young farmers coming through now are learning to talk more to one another.”

To talk to a sympathetic person who understands farming and rural life, contact the Farming Community Network on 03000 111 999, email help@fcn.org.uk or visit www.fcn.org.uk. Calls are answered from 7am-11pm every day

Celebration of Lens’s life

Len Eadon

Len Eadon © Eadon family

A celebration of Leonard Eadon’s life will take place on Sunday 5 June, at Stoneleigh Park Estate, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

Themed around Farming in the Community, the special charity fundraiser will include a fancy dress scarecrow competition and various sports – with a farming slant. There will also 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 has been designed to bring the whole community together with Len’s friends and family – while raising money for good causes.

“We want it to be a day of fun, challenges and reflection in celebration of Len’s life,” say his parents, Lynda and Andy. “Len is much loved and will always be remembered. We couldn’t be any prouder of him.”

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