“It was so easy to access the help.”
Third generation sheep and beef farmer Bryan Fell lives with his wife and two sons on their 350 acre family farm in Bassenthwaite near Keswick in the Lake District. When Storm Desmond hit Cumbria in December 2015 he faced devastating conditions and, like many farmers in the area, was struggling to care for his stock. Forage Aid was able to help Bryan and many of his neighbours in the immediate weeks following the crisis. We spoke to Bryan about his experience.
Tell us about how your farm was affected by Storm Desmond …
After a very wet November in Cumbria, December 2015 brought an unprecedented amount of rain. The watercourse that runs through our land became swollen then burst and water and debris flooded acres of my land. A parcel of about 80 acres was totally cut off and, thanks to a closed bridge, we had to make a 30-mile round trip to check on stock, so couldn’t easily get round to them. just getting round to feed them took a marathon effort.
We also lost some stock – six sheep were washed away. We had a foot or two of water in some of our sheds and about 15 acres of land was totally underwater, with about six acres covered with debris too.
How did you find out about Forage Aid?
We were put in touch through the Farmers Network, and when I initially heard about what they might be able to do to help I was a bit sceptical – it sounded too good to be true, if I’m honest! But within the first week of the flooding I had spoken to Andrew [Ward MBE, Forage Aid Charman and Founder] and we became one of the first to be helped here. It was so easy to access the help from the start.
What did Forage Aid do to help?
As soon as I spoke to Andrew he put me at ease and set wheels in motion. We met the first wagon at Keswick, and shared the straw between four or five local farmers that had been affected, then later ones brought some straw for our farm and quite a few neighbours too. I was one of the first to be helped but then others saw what was happening and received help too.
Andrew kept in touch with us on our farm over the next six weeks and carried on helping many of my neighbours too. Forage Aid also used my yard as an to drop off crop for other farmers with poor access for wagons.
For me, just knowing Forage Aid was at the end of the phone was really good for morale. It was comforting just to know that there was someone there who understood and could help if you were struggling even if you didn’t need them right then.
Did your contact with Forage Aid make a difference to you?
Oh yes, enormously. It was very heartwarming, especially this day and age … everyone is busy and for complete strangers to put donations on a wagon, and then from somebody to drive that to your farm when you’re up against it … To find an organisation like that was just brilliant.
I really can’t emphasise enough how Andrew is kind of a special fellow. He’s a very caring man, even though he’s also a very busy man! It felt like everybody mattered. It’s great what he has helped to set up and what Forage Aid is doing. Anyone could need it at the drop of a hat, it can be any natural disaster, and you guys are ready to jump into action to help farmers.
- Apply for help from Forage Aid
- More about Forage Aid
- Read more news about Forage Aid’s efforts across the UK