Young Farmers’ Clubs’ chairman and farmworker at Snowford Lodge Farm, Long Itchington, Warwickshire
• Presses safety message
• Bravery in using personal hardship as lesson for others
• Ambassador for young farmers
• Inspiring, brave, remarkable, honest – all are common among the words used by anyone describing James Chapman.
James, the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs chairman and a farmworker, suffered a devastating and life-threatening accident on 21 January 2005.
His left arm was severed when his clothes became entangled with the unguarded universal joint on a pto shaft. It took more than a year to come to terms with the accident and to begin thinking positively about how he could use his experience to prevent others suffering.
With typical openness, James explains to audiences across the country how the impact of a moment’s haste led to not just to pain and physical difficulty, but to a struggle with depression and the failure of a long-standing relationship.
“I don’t want people to think I’m preaching. I just want them to learn from my mistakes rather than make their own. I don’t want anybody, their families or their friends to go through this,” James says.
It is a message that James uses his role as YFC chairman to tell at shows, events, on radio and television, in the hope of encouraging workers to take more care.
He was also an early supporter of the Health and Safety Executive’s Make the Promise campaign.
Such is his contribution, that HSE officials credit him as being pivotal to the success of communicating the campaign messages to as wide a farming audience as possible.
“Unstinting with his time – no request for help has gone unanswered, even if it has occasionally taken James into unknown territory,” according to the HSE.
“It is his openness, honesty and willingness to share his story that has made it all the more powerful in the telling,” the HSE says.
Other causes have benefited from James’s dedication and determination to spread the safety message.
Both through his position as YFC chairman and in his own time he raises money for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the Air Ambulance, which came to his aid.
A spokesman for the YFC says that James has tirelessly championed the cause of safety in agriculture.
“James has led YFC to realise and put into practice the part it has to play in improving farm safety,” he says.
James is a remarkable young man. Through his bravery in being prepared to talk so starkly about the terrible injury he suffered in 2005, he has brought home the importance of safety on farms, to the younger generation of farmers in particular, in a way that no amount of preaching or PR could ever achieve. I have no doubt that many serious accidents have been avoided thanks to James’ testimony and the impact it has had.
But there is much more to James than that. In the way he has led the Young Farmers’ movement, and the way he speaks to audiences of all types, he stands for all that is best about the coming generation of farmers: their dynamism, their work ethic, their belief in their industry and their determination to succeed. His courage and his commitment are an example and an inspiration to us all
Peter Kendall, Pesident
2011 Farmers Weekly Awards