A range of support is available to farm families in NI who are struggling after a bereavement, a leading figure in the agri food industry has said.

George Mullan, who is managing director of the ABP Food Group in NI, chairs the Life Beyond programme for bereaved farm families.

“Can I say to those who have been affected by a fatal farm accident, the untimely death of a family member on the farm, or by the prognosis of a life limiting illness – you are not alone.”

“Rural Support, through the Life Beyond programme, is here to help with both the immediate and the longer-term matters as they arise,” Mullan said.

A team of advisers and counsellors are available through Life Beyond to offer guidance to bereaved farm families. Support services range from coping with grief and trauma, to managing farm finances.

At a remembrance service in St John’s Church of Ireland in Moneymore on Sunday, Mullan said that farm accidents and untimely deaths have long lasting effects on farm families.

“Many of you here are all too aware of the horrible consequences that living and working on a farm can sometimes bring. It is not always the idyllic and quiet place it used to be,” he said.

Clergy from different Christian dominations spoke at the service, including Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Rev Mawhinney told the congregation how he lost his father in an accident during a storm on their family farm in Ballycastle in October 1990.

“There is a sad reality of having empty wellies following a death on the farm. I know what it does to families and the immense grief that it brings,” he said.

The free services provided by the Life Beyond programme can be accessed by calling the Rural Support helpline on 0800-138-1678.

The service of remembrance took place in St John’s Church of Ireland in Moneymore.