Reaching a landmark age can feel like a daunting milestone, but it shouldn’t stop you from living life to the fullest! Why should you let people dictate how you spend your golden years? if there is something new that you want to learn or an activity that ignites your passion, why not take go for it?
After all, Colonel Sanders was 62 when he started his KFC empire; age truly is nothing more than a number.
One person who has truly embraced our ‘Keep Learning’ theme is Annabella Baker (54) from Morpeth in Northumberland where she lives with her husband and three Labrador Retrievers. Annabella had worked in the tourism industry for 18 years as cabin crew with Easyjet until Covid struck in 2020. Like many others, she then lost her dream job.
She explains: “That’s when I decided I needed to do something to keep me sane and to keep me going through such sad, difficult times. Along came the chance of a lifetime to do something completely different – I always loved animals, especially dogs and farm animals, cows above all, and this is why I started to look at options in my local area.
My best friend knew a lovely family that ran a dairy farm in the area. I enrolled in a Dairy Cattle Management course and Morwick Farm took a chance and employed me as their new dairy assistant despite having zero experience or knowledge. With my course and the experience and support of the team at Morwick Farm, I grew in confidence and I have now achieved a Level 4 in Dairy Cattle Management.”
Having made such a massive leap of faith, Annabella quickly began to see the other side of farming and recognises that poor mental health can affect any walk of life, age or sex. She explains: “Mental health awareness is a cause close to my heart because so many people, friends and family members can be affected, for different reasons. I, myself have experienced how many long hours, weeks and months farmers work, in all weather and in any sort of physical pain and it can go unnoticed.
“I read farming publications and websites to keep myself informed and it is easy to see the impact that misinformation, protesters, the current economic situation, a lack of staff, to name but a few, are causing distress and pressure in farmer’s lives.
Following her challenging entry and subsequent exit from the industry, Annabella realised that she loved the farming life and wanted to do something to support those who continue to face those issues every day. She had written and published several short novels so Annabella put pen to paper to write her first farming themed story…
“If it wasn’t for my lack of physical strength I would have definitely stayed in the industry.” She says: “I felt terrible, abandoning the farm and my beautiful cows, and felt I needed to give something back to show my gratitude to the Howie family and somehow to honour the farming industry. I started researching how to help and found the #MindYourHead campaign but I also wanted to put down in words what I had seen and how I felt.
“That’s when the idea for this book took shape. I have always loved writing and the story developed easily. I wanted to demonstrate to the wider public just how much farmers love their animals and the pride they have in what they produce but also how hard their job and their life can be. Not enough people know or appreciate that.
“I wanted to highlight how misunderstood they can be. How difficult it is sometimes, even for family members, to understand and to spot signs of distress.”
Annabella’s novel – Dinner at the Peninsula – is set between England and Hong Kong and follows the story of a couple taking a holiday. It is a fictional short story and an easy read full of powerful emotions, portraying the two sides of an apparently happy farming life, where mental health it is a word that nobody wants to hear or even pronounce.
As Annabella hopes: “Perhaps a fictional short story will offer the reader a chance to recognise the challenge of rural isolation, poor mental health and the signs of someone struggling and will hopefully be a starting point for a conversation or for reflection.”
“Dinner at the Peninsula” is available to buy in paperback from Amazon and Waterstones and can be downloaded on AMAZON Kindle DINNER AT THE PENINSULA eBook : Baker, Annabella: Amazon.co.uk: Books 15% of all paperback sales will be donated to the Farm Safety Foundation.