Farm Ireland

Friday 15 December 2017

Farm women group to host mental health talk

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
The newly crowned 2017 Blue Jean Country Queen Alison Sinnott from Wexford celebrates her big win at the 30th anniversary of the festival in Athboy, Meath, last weekend
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Tonight the South East Women in Farming group will host an open and honest discussion on emotional well-being and resilience building for rural ladies in the region.

The event, candidly titled 'Bouncing Back', will feature a panel of inspirational speakers including former world sheep-shearing champion and mental health advocate George Graham.

The Wexford native will share his story of struggling with mental illness and how seeking help and talking about his affliction brought about improvements in his life.

Margaret Hoctor, the woman behind the Kilmullen Farm brand based in Co Wicklow, will share her personal journey of bouncing back from redundancy as a high-powered executive at a leading international research company in 2013 to finding her true passion in agriculture.

The ambitious mother-of-two, who is also a life coach, will offer many tips and advice on how she overcame adversity and how she, and husband Eamon, a sheep farmer, turned her professional low into a burgeoning opportunity to expand their farming business.

Speaking to the Farming Independent, Margaret, whose business at Kilmullen Farm specialises in the production of lamb, apple juice and sweetcorn, encourages all women to come along. "I want to impart how I've learned and built resilience to other farming women because I think a lot of psychological barriers can come from negative self talk and not believing in yourself.

"After losing my job, I had to admit to myself and my husband that it was really hard. It was October, we were heading into winter and here I was changing my world. I said the best thing I can do is get out into nature and sort my head out.

"When the tears stopped, I said right, there is an opportunity to grow here," she says.

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Margaret went out and picked every apple in their orchard, put them in a box, and got them made into apple juice.

"That was my first way of building resilience. I took control. I also stayed really connected to my family and surrounded myself with really positive friends. Then I got an A4 journal, it was my clean slate, I sat down and I figured out what I really wanted to do," says Margaret, originally from Nenagh, where her mother ran a grocery business and her father worked for Abbey Oil.

"We had a third-generation sheep farm, we already sold a little lamb direct so I said why don't we build on what we have. The talk will be about how I got around my resilience to get to that point," she said.

The event is on at Millrace Hotel, Bunclody, Co Wexford at 7pm. Admission is €5. Attendees are advised to bring a notebook and pen.

* Wexford lady Alison Sinnott was crowned Blue Jean Country Queen 2017 at the festival’s 30th anniversary in Athboy, Co Meath last weekend.

The 21-year-old student and member of Kiltealy/Ballindaggin Macra na Feirme dedicated her award to “all the outstanding young women” that took part in the competition this year.

Alison, whose sister Julie will represent Wexford at this year’s Rose of Tralee, was awarded the top prize by judges, John Conway, former Macra Leinster vice president; Geoff Thompson, Ulster Young Farmers; and Samantha Baldwin, 1987 Blue Jean Country Queen.

Last year’s winner, Dearbhla O’Connor from Louth, also returned to Athboy to hand over the prestigious crown at a ceremony.

Runner-up was Rachel Glennon, from Westmeath, and third place went to Niamh Howard, from Avondhu, Cork.

Over the weekend, Alison and her 26 fellow Queens took part in on-stage interviews, fashion show, and a game of fancy dress football. “I feel honoured and privileged to have shared the weekend with such empowering queens,” says Alison.

Indo Farming