A brief statement on today’s farming tragedy in Foulkesmill

There are others who know the grieving family far more personally, so I would not presume to intrude on their great grief; however, I have been asked by several people in the media for a comment, as I am a public representative who lives locally.
This family is well known and highly regarded locally; for three generations they have built up together a successful contracting business, and innovative agricultural produce company. They are the proud participants and winners of several ploughing contests. Their neighbours and community are naturally proud of them all.
Any fatal accident is tragedy enough to one’s closest loved ones; but I understand there are young children who have been left without their father, and this makes the tragedy particularly acute and heart rending. Our hearts go out to them; I have small children myself, and I find it dreadfully difficult to imagine what it could be like for his family surviving.
My impression is that people locally are stunned. When a family like this is so woven into the fabric of a community, when a single thread is cut, it can feel like the entire tapestry could unravel.
Which is why I trust neighbours and friends will try to stitch them closer still.
May God bless them and give them strength in each other.
It’s certainly not a time for politics, but I would like to express a personal hope: that we might collectively pull together to achieve something along the lines of the Scandinavian model for a state-sponsored farm safety programme, that was implemented in Sweden over the course of five years. In 2013, they reduced farm fatalities to zero. Last year, the farm, fishing and forestry sector produced half of all recorded workplace fatalities in this state; two and a half times that of construction. For the sake of all all those families and communities, perhaps we could work together to achieve a zero number too.

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