Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Sedgemoor Auction Centre at Junction 24, Bridgwater on 15th October.
During her visit, The Princess Royal opened the Derek Mead Health Room, a free health clinic for farmers and agricultural workers. This clinic not only offers physical health checks to these individuals, but also provides mental and emotional support to anyone in need of help.
The Health Room is open every second and fourth Saturday of each month. On these busy market days, an NHS nurse is on-hand to carry out essential health checks such as blood pressure monitoring, and blood sugar testing, whilst also offering support for mental health concerns. Farmers can pop into the clinic, which is conveniently located next to the auction ring, with no prior appointment and speak to a nurse in confidence.
Katherine Hawke, Director of Junction 24 and Chairwoman of The Derek Mead Health Room Committee, says: “We opened the Derek Mead Health Room in memory of my father. He was well known in the farming community and was a passionate advocate in the efforts to provide farmers with the care and support they need. He always believed that more could be done for the farming community and that health care, especially, needs to be more accessible.”
“We were delighted to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to visit the Health Room so we could show her, first hand, the efforts that are being made to offer the very best support and care to this incredible group of hard working men and women.”
The Princess Royal’s visit also entailed a tour of Sedgemoor Auction Centre: Europe’s largest livestock market, a brief experience of a live auction and a one-on-one meeting with the NHS nurses and volunteers who have made the health room possible.
Belinda Bennett, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Nurse Team Manager and Lead Nurse for the Derek Mead Health Room, says “The Derek Mead Health Room has been a huge success and is making a real difference to farmers across the South West and beyond.
“We know that farmers can live and work in isolated communities and we are proud that we are helping people who may not otherwise access healthcare services.”
The Health Room has been set up thanks to the support of various local bodies, who have formed the Health Room Committee. This includes, Junction 24, The Weston Lions Club, Taunton & Somerset and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trusts, The Farming Community Network (FCN), Bridgwater Agricultural Society, The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), Mole Valley Farmers, Hewish, Puxton & Wick St Lawrence Harvest Home, Greenslade Taylor Hunt and Puxton Park.