Vital Ribble Valley rural health service recognised

Richard Schofield, Harriet Roberts and Roger Dugdale. (s)
Richard Schofield, Harriet Roberts and Roger Dugdale. (s)

A Ribble Valley pilot rural health drop-in service has been recognised at the Rural Business Awards.

Field Nurse, which provides qualified nurses in Gisburn and Clitheroe auction markets to tackle the physical and mental health risks associated with rural isolation, was highly commended in the Social Enterprise category of the Rural Business Awards.

Field Nurse was started in 2016 by a group of volunteers who had seen a similar project in Bakewell.

The need that the team identified was confirmed by the local Clinical Commissioning Group which granted £10,000 funding.

The service goes to where farmers are working, going about their business in the auction markets, at agricultural shows and at Young Farmers’ meetings.

Judges at the awards loved Field Nurse and felt the idea of targeting farmers was a brilliant one, saying this was a sector of the community typically poor at seeking medical help.

Roger Dugdale from Field Nurse said: “We started Field Nurse to provide a vital service to farmers and rural businesses who feel cut off from, or can’t access, formal healthcare.

“Our check-up services have become a very popular fixture at local farmers markets and cattle auctions.

“It’s wonderful to think that our efforts are appreciated both by the people who directly use them and by the wider rural business community.

“The Rural Business Awards are a fantastic way of celebrating the rural economy and I hope our success can help highlight our work and show rural communities that help is at hand, should they need it.”

The glittering awards ceremony was held earlier this month compered by Jules Hudson of BBC Escape to the Country fame. The only UK-wide programme dedicated to showcasing the success of rural businesses, the awards are now in their third year and are run in partnership with the CLA and Amazon. Entries came in from 52 UK counties with Lancashire firms sending in a particularly high number of applications, along with Yorkshire.

The RBAs are the brainchild of Leicestershire businesswomen Anna Price and Jemma Clifford, who wanted to showcase the wealth of entrepreneurial talent in rural areas of Britain – a sector of the economy they felt was all-too-often overlooked in favour of large city-based firms.

Awards co-founder Anna Price said: “Wow, what an amazing night for Lancashire. This was one of our strongest counties in terms of numbers of applications sent in and we were so pleased to see such a great quartet of businesses do so well in our awards. Creativity can be a key skill for rural businesses, which often have hurdles to overcome which their urban counterparts don’t, and Farm Creative was a worthy winner in this category of our awards. Field Nurse is doing such a brilliant job in tackling mental health amongst the farming community, while The Wellbeing Farm and The Rookery are both providing an amazingly different experience enabling people to enjoy and cherish the Lancashire environment. Four different businesses, yet united by their passion for the Great British countryside. Congratulations to all of them.”

Next year’s awards will be open for entries next month. To find out more visit www.ruralbusinessawards.co.uk