WTF, a group set up in memory of Mike Malseed, has raised money to host breakfast meetings for farmers on Dartmoor. 

Mike was a commoner on Dartmoor up until he sadly took his own life two years ago. A group of those who knew Mike decided to raise money to help combat suicide amongst those who work on the moors. 

The group was named WTF (Witheridge to Frenchbeer) in memory of Mike, who was born in Witheridge and ended up in Frenchbeer. The group raised an incredible £7,000. 

With £3,500 the group asked for the help of the Farming Community Network (FCN) and the Dartmoor Hill Farm Project (DHFP) to set up meetings to help combat the isolation of farmers and commoners on the moors. 

So the Dartmoor Farmer Wellbeing Project began. There are now groups who meet on Dartmoor for breakfast, or sometimes lunch or a farm walk, to help people feel less isolated. 

Stephen Dennis, regional lead for the south west at FCN, said: "We decided to have groups where we bring people together, give them something to eat and subtly let them know what support is available.

"The groups are to help breakdown isolation and to get people to understand there is a lot of help out there if they need it. 

"Help may be simple, such as having a chat with someone across a table who is going through exactly the same thing."

South West Farmer: Guests at a Dartmoor Farmer Wellbeing Group.Guests at a Dartmoor Farmer Wellbeing Group. (Image: Stephen Dennis)

The groups started more than a year ago and there are now half a dozen across Dartmoor. Sizes of groups can vary from under ten to more than 50, depending on where they meet. Groups can choose how often they meet and make sure it fits around eveyrone's busy farming schedule. 

Ed Pollard, a farmer on the moor, runs a breakfast group of ten people. 

He said: "There are some farmers who are retired, who aren't farming much anymore and don't see many people. Groups like this give farmers a focus to go to and talk to people who are like minded. People who go to these meetings have all got something in common.

"People are quite eager to come to the groups. They talk quite freely to each other, and they talk about things they’ve probably not talked to anyone for years about."

The money from WTF is being used to offer farmers a free breakfast, although some are happy to pay and/or donate money, so that the fund can keep going as more groups join in. 

Hazel Kendall, farming officer at DHFP, explained that the breakfasts are all about 'building trust' with the farming community. 

"It is about creating that safe space where that person knows and trusts you," she said.

"And maybe then five years later you’ll get a phone call, completely unrelated, but it is about creating trusted relationships and a safe space for people to talk." 

If you are interested in setting up a group - or even joining one for breakfast - get in touch with Stephen at FCN (helpline is 03000 111 999) or Hazel at the DHFP on 01822 890913.