Boxing Day tractor run in Norfolk raises thousands for charity

Just under 200 tractors took part in the annual Boxing Day charity event in Larling, Norfolk, raising thousands of pounds for the rural mental health organization YANA (You Are Not Alone).

Organized by local father and son team Gavin and Jack Stammers, the tractor run departs from the Angel Inn in Larling every year and proceeds along a 20-mile route over tracks and farmland before returning in the early afternoon.

Now in its 17th year, the festive event was founded by local businessmen David Boggia and David Kidd and has raised over £40,000 to date for local charities. Speaking to Farmers Guide, Suzanne Webb, who is involved in the organizing and running of the event, provided more details.

According to Ms Webb, the Larling tractor run initially featured classic/vintage vehicles and has been extended over the years to include modern tractors. The decision has resulted in more participants taking part, specifically young farmers who tend to own newer machinery.

The event featured a mixture of vintage, classic and modern tractors.

The event has always departed from the Angel Inn at Larling, owned by the Stammers who also farm the surrounding lands. Each year, a local farmer volunteers to provide the halfway point for the run, offering parking and refreshments to participants, Ms Webb said.

In 2022, Raker Farms of John and Melinda Raker served as the stopping point for the parade. Ms Raker, the founder and a patron of YANA, the charity benefitting from the event, was delighted to be hosting.

“It was extraordinary seeing this long stream of tractors, from the vintage ones at the front to the very modern ones at the back, coming into the farmyard and parking there. It was a wonderful display of tractors,” she recalled.

“It was also a chance for me to speak to a lot of the people and participants attending, which gave me a bit of a chance to talk to individuals about the charity as well.”

Vehicles displaying festive decorations added to the Christmas spirit.

Alongside the 198 tractor drivers, hundreds of locals came to watch the spectacle and enjoy a nice day out with their families. Visitors enjoyed climbing into tractors and taking photos, and there was an all-around cheerful atmosphere among the crowd, Ms Webb remarked.

With tractors lining the road for three-quarters of a mile, some displaying festive decorations, the event made for an impressive sight. Setting off at 10 am amid cheering onlookers, the parade returned to the Angel Inn around 2 pm, Ms Webb said.

Tractors lined the roads near the Larling Angel for three-quarters of a mile.

From donations and the £20 per tractor entry fee, a total of £4,600 was raised for this year’s chosen charity YANA. Ms Webb explained proceedings from the tractor run always go to a local charity with a connection to agriculture and rural communities.

Following the event, organizer Gavin Stammers extended his thanks to Agrovista and Agrikel for their contribution towards the plaques received by drivers at the end of the run, as well as Corteva Agriscience for providing the vehicle numbers.

Following departure, the parade shortly turned onto dirt tracks and farmland.

Funded by the community, for the community: the impact of YANA

Launched by Melinda Raker DL in 2008 as part of the Norfolk farming charity the Clan Trust, YANA was initially a mental health project that developed into a charity in its own right. In an interview with Farmers Guide, Ms Raker shared more about the work of the organization and why the funding and awareness raised at the Larling event is so important.

The primary mission of YANA is to promote mental health awareness among agricultural and other rural businesses in East Anglia. The organization offers fully-funded counseling sessions, Menta Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, useful resources and a dedicated helpline to those in need.

Ms Raker said that while the charity is always grateful to receive funding, the awareness raised at the Larling tractor run has been even more valuable: “The more people know about YANA, the more people we can help.”

“The 198 participants to the event meant that so many more people took away a leaflet or they got stickers and they know what we do,” she added.

YANA has recently expanded its work in Essex and Cambridgeshire and has 27 counselors providing service. Calls for its helpline have increased 71% in the last year, highlighting the relevance and need for mental health support in farming.

However, Ms Raker stressed there are no plans for the charity to become national.

“We think it’s really important to know our rural communities, how farming ticks in our area, and by being small enough, we can still be very agile in the decisions we make.”

Speaking of the difference funding can make to the charity’s work, Ms Raker said:

“Financially, £50 pays for an hour of counselling. £300 would pay for a series of counseling sessions and that can be life-changing for someone and also have a positive impact on their colleagues and their family and friends. £350 would pay for a place on one of our fully-funded Mental Health First Aid courses. £4,000 would pay for a complete course for 10 or 12 people.

“And so the money that Larling Angel have raised will be put to immediate use for counseling or one of our courses.”

According to Ms Raker, over 270 people from rural businesses have received training from YANA’s MHFA course so far. She said that while mental health first aid is becoming more common in the UK, it has not yet spread far in the rural sector.

“Most businesses will have a first aider, but we are trying to get a mental health first aider into as many rural businesses as we can, so that people who had that training can spot the signs of poor mental health and support their friend or colleague and sign post them to the relevant support.

“It’s our aim to expand mental health first aid in the rural sector and we’ve trained young farmers, people from charities, CLA, NFU, rural churches, grain merchants, land agents, accountants, and solicitors,” she added.

Lastly, to illustrate impact YANA’s counseling sessions can have on those who are struggling, Ms Raker quoted the message from a thank you card received by the charity recently: “My son was down and suicidal, but thanks to the counseling that he had from YANA , I still have my son today.”

To find out more about YANA, its services or to make a donation, visit: https://www.yanahelp.org/

Those in need of support or with concerns regarding a family member, colleague or friend can call the charity’s confidential helpline 0300 323 0400 or email helpline@yanahelp.org.

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