John comes up trumps for UHK unit following sunrise tractor run

Stephen Fernane

When John Sheehan's mental health hit a low point in September 2017, it would have been hard to have convinced him that in less than a year he would return to present a cheque for €7,025 to the Sliabh Mish Ward at University Hospital Kerry.

John's brush with depression resulted in a two-week stay at UHK where staff helped him change his outlook on life. 

But the Dromid native vowed to raise funds for the service and, along with his wife Mary, set about organising 'The Sunrise Tractor Run'.

The event was held in February as 100 tractors converged on Foilmore Community Centre for a special dawn journey through the locality that will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it. 

"It is very rewarding for me, as the staff at UHK's mental health services have been amazing to me. They have a hard job and are fierce committed. Thankfully, my wife supported my idea and we said, 'we will do it'," John said.

An organising team was formed to get the event off the ground, and John is extremely grateful to everyone who rowed in behind him - and to the people who brought tractors from all over the county. 

John also feels that mental health can still be a 'touchy subject' for some to talk about, so he wanted to get people talking.

"It's important to talk, and I think my event helped achieve this, certainly in my area. We wouldn't have raised this money without the help of so many people who got involved. 

"The South Kerry Mental Health Service has also helped me to think in a different way, and it's thanks to them I'm the person I am today. 

"My advice to people experiencing a difficult time is go to your GP and talk to someone, it's worth it," John added.