10th Anniversary

Countrymen UK marks 10th anniversary at Dorset farm to celebrate all the men it has helped find the respite and meaningful activity they longed for

At the end of July many local people gathered at Ryland’s Farm, just outside Sherborne, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the innovative Countrymen UK Club which has featured on Escape to the Country and BBC Countryfile. The organisation was formed by farmer’s daughter Julie Plumley 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.’ From this realisation Julie established the Countrymen UK Club for men with various life limiting conditions that make accessing a practical work environment or farm or countryside activity difficult to manage independently. 

In the past 10 years the Countrymen UK Clubs have expanded and proved to be beneficial to men from all walks of life. Julie explains that the Countrymen UK Club has been positively evaluated by Essex University for helping to improve men’s wellbeing and improve sleep. Over the last 10 years they have trained 11 other spaces and farms across the country to use the countrymen’s club model from Cornwall, Buckinghamshire, and Wales to Scotland. Julie says, ‘We hope that now Covid is more manageable that we will be able to train more sites in Dorset.’

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 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. 

Refreshments included a tasty Ploughman’s 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 from Sherborne.

Finally Julie Plumley comments, ‘There is a saying that it takes a community to raise a child which I very much believe in and it has taken the community to make this a successful event that I hope the families will remember.

For more information about Countrymen UK go to www.countrymenuk.org or email: [email protected] or Tel: 01963 210789.

For press information and high res images contact: Jane Adkins, A Head for PR Ltd, Tel: 01935

813114; Mob: 07960698089 or Email: [email protected] 

Editor’s Notes

*Research has been carried out by the University of Essex as part of the Countrymen UK Monitoring and Evaluation project

Future Roots: Future Roots uses the care farming approach to build the resilience of vulnerable people who are going through transitions in their lives. This includes supporting people to learn life skills, strengthen relationships, and improve mental and physical health.

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