Appointment adds another piece to Farmstrong Scotland jigsaw

17 Nov 2023

Farmer’s daughter Clare Dickson had been dreaming of finding a job that combined the rural sector with helping people once she was ready to return to work after having her young family.

She says her appointment as Community Engagement Specialist for Farmstrong Scotland has made that dream come true.

“I knew I didn’t just want any job,” says Clare. “I wanted a role that in some way would help the agricultural community and I’m thrilled that this amazing opportunity with Farmstrong Scotland arrived at the right time.”

Clare, 38, grew up on her parents’ farm near Blyth Bridge, Peeblesshire, where she still lives with her husband, a farmer’s son who works for a machinery dealership, and her two young boys.

Before taking a career break to bring up her family Clare had spent nearly ten years with the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), latterly as a Network Support Coordinator, which involved getting out-and-about supporting the Project Coordinators, their committees and volunteers.

“I’m very much a people person, always have been,” says Clare. “I was heavily involved in young farmers with various office bearer roles, on stage for 13 years of concerts and always keen to try all that the organisation had to offer – well perhaps all apart from sport! My early career working in hospitality was also very much people driven.”

Clare serves on Peebles Show committee, undertaking the trophy convener role, together with her father. She is also a committee member and treasurer of Peeblesshire Agricultural Discussion Society.

“I think having these volunteer roles are good for my own personal wellbeing; that feeling of being involved with a community,” reflects Clare, who describes herself as a bit of a foodie; always happy in the kitchen cooking and baking and also enjoying eating out and socialising.

“I’m eager to start spreading the word about Farmstrong Scotland; getting out among farming and crofting communities to let them know about the programme and how they can get involved.”

The decision to launch Farmstrong in Scotland follows on from a visit by New Zealand farmer Doug Avery, who drew huge audiences when he toured the country back in 2018 to talk about his own challenges with mental health and wellbeing.

“I went to one of the Doug Avery sessions and was very moved by what he was saying, that farmers look after their stock and machinery but don’t put any value in looking after themselves,” remembers Clare.

“As we know, farmers don’t really retire, so I admire my in-laws who farm on Bute. They try to cover each other so they can get away sometimes from the farm for the weekend. My own parents and brother also make a point of getting away from the farm often. Everybody who farms or crofts knows that if you stay at home you always find a job to do!

“To be involved right from the start of a new programme is very exciting, I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

Alix Ritchie, Programme Director for Farmstrong Scotland, said: “We are delighted that Clare is joining us; she is very much a people person and I am sure she’ll hit the ground running spreading the Farmstrong Scotland message.

“It’s a very exciting time for all of us involved in the programme and we are so looking forward to sharing all its inspiring yet practical wellbeing messages with the farming and crofting communities.”