Cheshire young farmers complete 29-hour milking marathon

A trio of young farmers from Cheshire have completed a 29-hour milking marathon to raise money for the Farm Safety Foundation.

Kate Young, Fiona Wilshaw and Emma Windsor – otherwise known as the Cheshire Dairy Queen Team – milked more than 3,500 cows across six farms in the county.

The epic challenge started at 3am on Saturday (7 May) at Bidlea Dairy, near Holmes Chapel village.

See also: Where farmers in need can find charity help

“It was amazing, I can’t believe how well it went,” Ms Wilshaw told Farmers Weekly. “The whole time the three of us were just buzzing. It was such a team effort.”

One of the toughest shifts was milking 2,000 cows from 8pm-4am, but taking on new instructions at each farm they visited and working in unfamiliar parlours helped keep the group alert.

Ms Young said: “We wanted to challenge ourselves both mentally and physically and push ourselves to the limit. We really did pull each other through.”

Ms Windsor added: “The high point for me was seeing how much the farmers appreciated us coming, especially when some of those managed to finish 30 minutes earlier than usual.”

The trio powered through to finish the marathon effort at the family dairy farm of Cheshire YFC county chairman Jonty Cliffe.

Three women in a milking parlour

Still going: Kate Young, Fiona Wilshaw and Emma Windsor during the milking marathon © Fiona Wilshaw

Mr Cliffe said: “Kate, Fiona and Emma have been fantastic ambassadors for Cheshire YFC this year, and this challenge is a perfect example of their commitment to flying the flag for British agriculture and the Farm Safety Foundation.”

The challenge has raised nearly £2,600 for the Farm Safety Foundation, a charity the young farmers say is doing great work to look after the physical and mental health of people working in agriculture.

“Farm safety isn’t where it should be, in comparison to other industries which are much more formalised, such as construction,” Ms Wilshaw said.

“Having accessible training and information is important. We need to learn skills to identify and help our friends and colleagues to support each other in times of difficulty.

“It’s also good to normalise checking in with yourself and working on your mental health, to learn how to enjoy life as much as possible, especially as financial and other uncertainty in agriculture is growing.”

Mental Health Awareness Week

Farmers living and working in rural isolation are being encouraged to speak to someone if they are struggling with feelings of loneliness.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, 9-15 May, will address the experience of loneliness, its effect on our mental health and how we can all play a part in reducing loneliness in our communities.

Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Loneliness is affecting more and more of us in the UK and has had a huge impact on our physical and mental health during the pandemic.

“Our connection to other people and our community is fundamental to protecting our mental health.”

The Farm Safety Foundation says the first step towards improving mental health can be as simple as talking to someone.