FARMING MATTERS: Giving back to the farming community

Virginia Stollery
Virginia Stollery

After a long and successful career in the farming industry, former Aylesbury NFU branch secretary Virginia Stollery wanted to give something back to the farming community.

Now, as chairman of the Bucks committee of RABI (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute) she works to fund raise and support farmers in need.

This involves being a listening ear, or providing financial assistance, or delivering hampers prior to Christmas.

She said: “We rely on the farming community and people who work with farmers, like vets and seed reps, to tip us the wink if someone is struggling.’

Some referrals also come via the Farm Community Network, a Christian based charity that supports farmers and their families.

RABI was founded over 150 years ago by gentleman farmer John Joseph Mechi who farmed at Tiptree in Kent, Virginia said: “He thought he was jolly well off but plenty of others were not, and he felt we owed it to them to help them out.

“The general public think all farmers have Range Rovers and go shooting, but the farming community helps one another and we support one another and that is what RABI is borne out of.

“Tenant farmers in particular have more difficulties, they are at the behest of the landlord and the tenancy agreement.

“No one can predict getting a disease, you could get a disease in your chickens that wipes out the flock. You can’t insure against all diseases.

“The reason I am involved with RABI is that I have earned my living from the farming industry and I am comfortably off and I want to put something back. We also have a great time raising money with a cream tea, a carol service and taking part in runs.”

The RABI Christmas carol service at Thame Farmer’s Market is open to all, and Virginia says if you can’t sing, just mime. It takes place from 7pm on Thursday December 7 - a great date for the diary. Remember to wrap up warm!