UK’s biggest combine journey in aid of mental health charity

Four farmers are hoping to raise awareness and funds for mental health charity Mind by driving a combine harvester the length of the UK.

The Charity Combine Challenge will see farmers Olly Harrison, John Branson, James Baldini and Martin Williams drive a Claas Lexion 8700 combine from John o’Groats to Land’s End from 4 to 8 June.

To minimise the environmental impact, the combine will be running on Certas Energy HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) fossil-free fuel. The farmers are also raising money for children’s cancer charity, Children with Cancer UK.

See also: How farmers can deal with mental health at times of pressure

Their epic journey will see them drive around 200 miles per day during daytime in the combine, which will be accompanied by a support car. As the machine is 3.49m wide, it cannot travel on motorways.

The 875-mile route will be driven over five days, starting at John o’Groats with overnight stops at Sellars Agriculture , Perth, Rickerby , Carnforth, Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, and Hamblys, Launceston.

After the drive, the combine will be on show at Cereals Event, Thoresby Estate, Newark from 13-14 June.

All four men have suffered the loss of close friends through suicide, and they believe the tragic deaths could have been avoided by talking and communication about their mental health.

‘Answer as a percent’

Merseyside arable farmer Olly Harrison, who owns the combine, told Farmers Weekly: “Poor mental health is a massive problem among farmers and people across the country.

“That’s why we decided to drive a combine the length and breadth of the UK to raise awareness about mental health issues and get people talking. That’s the biggest thing people could do.

“Losing my friend has changed my outlook on life and I really want to do more about it.”

Mr Harrison would like people to #answerasapercent when asked how they are feeling. “It’s the biggest lie in the world to say, “I’m fine”, when you are not. But if you say, “I’m only 60% today’, that gets people talking,” he explained.

To follow the journey’s progress as it happens, download the Claas telematics app or visit Olly’s YouTube channel @OllyBlogsAgricontractfarmer.

To donate funds, visit the team’s JustGiving page.

The route