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Please just ask: the compassionate reach of the Guild’s Charitable Trust

By 27th June 2023July 27th, 2023No Comments

In the face of life’s challenges, it is not always easy to ask for help, even when we need it the most. In this heartfelt article, one individual shares their personal journey and highlights the profound impact of the Guild’s Charitable Trust in providing support, solace, and a renewed sense of hope to those navigating difficult times within the agricultural community. Natalie Noble shares her experiences:

Each of us has our own evolving story and over the years of Harvest Lunches we’ve shared the highs and lows; as individuals, professionals, and as a collective.

Linking us all is our Guild and its Charitable Trust – but are we truly aware of how lucky we are to have the latter to lean on?  When life gets tough, it is easy to allow yourself to lose sight of the shoreline.

And it’s hard to ask for help – we never feel deserving enough. So I hope that by sharing my story it helps open the dialogue about the ups and downs that impact our health and wellbeing. And, importantly, I hope it encourages members to reach out to the Trust in times of need, if not for themselves, then for others who might just need a little help back to shore.

I made my break into the world of agricultural journalism in 2019: My story starts with two women, a shared penchant for pizza, and then an unexpected job offer – a dream come true.

Immediately after Olivia Cooper offered me a seat at the Agri-hub team table, I picked up the phone to my partner, Nick. He was always the first person I’d call – big, little, or trivial news, he was always the voice I wanted to hear. Life was good and I had never felt more like I was exactly where I was meant to be.

But just a few weeks after that call, on 6 October 2019, my world imploded. Nick collapsed on the finish line of the Cardiff Half Marathon while I was still running, totally oblivious except an unusual ache in my heart. I will never forget being told he had died, all was dark and dust.

It’s important for me to share that Nick was an incredibly fit man, and only three days from his 36th birthday, a half marathon was a leg stretch. He’d run to football and play a full and committed 90 minutes – and then run home! He maintained a heart rate of 70bpm climbing the switchbacks of the Canadian Rockies, and he hardly broke a sweat. He was so fit and he was so full of life.

Shortly after Nick died, I did try and seek counselling support, however, as in many rural counties, the charitable services were seemingly non-existent. Thrown into lockdown, seeking any help felt impossible, and I couldn’t bear to bring anyone else into my home via a screen. Nevertheless, I was lucky, I had people keeping me afloat including my agri-angels: Olivia, Mel Jenkins, and Ruth Wills.

Over the next couple of years, as restrictions were lifted and life returned to some social norm, I realised that I was not coping well. I felt like it was time to revisit getting some help and I started sessions with a private counsellor. The need for frequent and regular sessions to begin with made counselling an expense beyond my means, but I didn’t feel like I fitted anywhere in the realms of needing to ask for help – and I was too proud for my own good.

Olivia was the first to suggest the Trust – but I struggled with the idea of ‘financial’ help, even though I’d have thought it a perfectly reasonable request for someone else. Picking up the phone to Stephen Howe was nerve-wracking for all the reasons above.

I needn’t have worried, there was nothing to fear; no dented pride, no interrogation, no judgment. I was only met with warmth, respect, and reassurance. All it took was a phone call and an email and within 10 days, the Trust had facilitated the sessions I needed to start getting back on my proverbial feet, making it clear to me that should I need more support they would do their very best.

I am incredibly grateful that at a time of great need, the Trust was there; open, kind, and entirely willing. Financially, it lifted a weight, but the kindness that continues to be shown is invaluable. I’m so glad I asked for help – over time, and with that support, my confidence has grown and I’m actively pursuing the things that put a pep in my step.

So I urge you to ask, it could just make all the difference. And please know that the Trust has always operated with the privacy of members at its heart, any approach will be treated with the strictest confidence.