Countrymen UK celebrates its 10th anniversary at Ryland’s farm

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Ryland’s farm

Innovative local club helps men with life-limiting conditions access farm and countryside activities to improve their quality of life and mental health

Farmer’s daughter Julie Plumley formed the Countryman UK Club when she realised that her father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s, had no outdoor spaces or areas where he could engage in some meaningful activity. “He had always been a farmer and was not used to just sitting in a room indoors.” Julie established the Countrymen UK Club for men with various life-limiting conditions that make accessing a practical work environment, farm or countryside activity difficult to manage independently. The Club helps men find longed-for respite and meaningful activity.

Making a difference
This year marks the 10th year since Julie’s initial start-up. Over the last decade the Club has trained 11 other spaces and farms across the country to use the its model, from Cornwall to Buckinghamshire, Wales to Scotland. Julie says, “We hope that now Covid is more manageable that we will be able to train more sites in Dorset.”
Countrymen UK Clubs have proved to be beneficial to men from all walks of life. As part of the Countrymen UK Monitoring and Evaluation project, research has been carried out by the University of Essex that found the Club has helped to improve men’s wellbeing and improve sleep. The Club has featured on Escape to the Country and BBC Countryfile, and this July marked its 10th anniversary with a party at Ryland’s Farm, outside Sherborne.
The success of the Countrymen UK Clubs can be summed up from various comments heard throughout the day:
“My husband loved it here; it was the
best thing for him.”
“I knew when he got on the bus he
would be well cared for and I could relax. He always came home with a smile on
his face.”
“He loves it here being part of the farm team. He feels at home, he does so much –
I can’t believe it when I see what he has
been up to in the photos.”
The Lord-Lieutenant Angus Campbell gave a toast to the unpaid carers and families who support the men and have had such a tough time during Covid-19, as well as to the men who are no longer with us and the current men who attend, commending them for their strength and bravery.

Local support
Refreshments included a tasty ploughman’s lunch from Wyke Cheese from Bruton, who donated butter and cheese as well as home-made cakes. There was also a much-needed ice cream from Ecco Gelato of Sherborne.
If you’d like to find out more about Countrymen UK Clubs, visit www.countrymenuk.org. Alternatively you can email admin@countrymenuk.org or call 01963 210789.

Ryland’s farm Ryland’s farm

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