Rural Support Celebrating Successful First Year of Ballymacbrennan Plough On Group

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Rural Support Celebrating Successful First Year of Ballymacbrennan Plough On Group

Rural Support Celebrating Successful First Year of Ballymacbrennan Plough On Group

March 13, 2024 Victoria Ross

Rural Support are marking one year of their Plough On group in Ballymacbrennan which has proved a great success.

The Ballymacbrennan group commenced in February 2023, meeting in the Old Ballymacbrennan School House near Saintfield led by Group Leader Christina Murray and helped by volunteer Norman McMordie. The group has grown rapidly from 11 men at the first meeting to over 20 men by the sixth meeting. The group have enjoyed trips to SlurryKat, Cherryvalley Farm, AFBI Hillsborough and been involved in demonstrations by a woodturner and local Beekeeping Society. In January, the men tried their hand at bowls at Belfast Indoor Bowls Club, which proved a highly entertaining and somewhat competitive afternoon!

The Plough On project aims to tackle rural isolation and increase social opportunities for older male farmers by offering participants the chance to connect with other like-minded individuals on areas of shared interest such as farming, rural heritage, and history.

Benefits of participation include improvements to the farmers’ emotional and mental wellbeing by being part of a new male network focused on farming life, and for the men’s wider farming family who report on the positive impact they see after each monthly meet-up. Group Leader Christina Murray noted, “There have been lovely friendships created amongst the group, and it is a fabulous opportunity for the men to meet up and talk.” The feedback from the participants has also been very positive with one saying: “I really look forward to the monthly events, to meet people and enjoy the banter.”

From its inception in July 2021, Plough On has become integral to how Rural Support the farming community in Northern Ireland. Project Co-Oordinator, Shannon McCullagh stated: “Plough On is such an important initiative to support our rural farming communities. Being out on the ground you can see firsthand how much the men’s lives have changed from being involved. It has given them such a lift! We are very grateful to The National Lottery Community Fund for supporting our vision and providing the funding which has made this project possible.’

If you would like to find out more, or to support this project and other services and programmes delivered by Rural Support, go to the NI Farm Support hub at www.ruralsupport.org.uk or telephone the Support Line on Freephone 0800 138 1678 available Monday-Friday 9am-9pm.

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