FIELD nurses who visit 'lonely farmers' in the Ribble Valley are finding that many are struggling with isolation, bereavement or medical problems.

The Crossroads Care Ribble Valley's Field Nurse project is run by qualified and retired nurses who are farmers' wives or daughters and has helped 150 people in its first year.

Five farmers were even referred to accident and emergency departments after field nurses picked up serious problems.

The aim is to reduce the risks of rural isolation for farmers because of the negative impact this can have on their physical and mental health.

Event organiser and trustee Harriet Roberts said: “Nothing like this exists in Lancashire.

“Many farmers suffer from rural isolation, bereavement as well as loneliness and can struggle to cope.

“They have a reputation for being reluctant to seek medical help or advice.

“I have been surprised at how many farmers know somebody who has committed suicide.

“It’s tough and hard because of the economy of the farming community in the Ribble Valley.”

The project was started by Roger Dugdale and Richard Schofield, both from the farming community,

They came together to start a campaign to find trained nurses and to provide a drop-in clinic at Gisburn and Clitheroe Auction Markets.

The group was given £10,000 by East Lancashire health chiefs to deliver the project.

Ms Roberts added: “People who have used the service say it is a very good cause and want to come back.

“The nurses who work with the group are all professionally qualified or retired and are from a farming background either as farmers' wives or daughters.

“This is because they understand how hard life is for farmers.”