Diocesan press releases

Lift-off time for farm support network

TirDewiBannerIt’s taken a while, but Tir Dewi is ready for full lift-off

There’s to be a relaunch in April, at which the St Davids diocesan-backed farmers’ support helpline will announce big steps forward in its work.

There’ll be a dedicated freephone number, a website plus an enhanced presence on social media – anything that helps farming families get in touch in times of trouble.

And the organisation is actively recruiting volunteers who are qualified – or can be trained – to answer the calls.

Tir Dewi was the brainchild of the Bishop’s Rural Affairs Adviser, Canon Eileen Davies, who secured initial funding from the diocese and from the Prince of Wales’ Countryside Committee.

GarethDaviesBut the day-to-day organisation has now been entrusted to a newly-appointed Co-ordinator, Gareth Davies, who moved to Pembrokeshire six years ago in search of pastures new.

Now 55, he describes his journey thus far as “eclectic”. A survivor of the Aberfan disaster (he was a pupil at the school in 1966), he has been, variously, a teacher, an insurance salesman and a headhunter. He also ran a business writing wills for a time.

His path to faith was unusual too. And his wife, Vanessa, had much to do with it. “I was an outspoken atheist,” he admits, “whereas she had a faith without a home.”

That home was found when they moved to Hayscastle, near Haverfordwest, where Vanessa became part of the village chapel community at nearby Roch. She persuaded her reluctant husband to give it a try as they sought to integrate into local society.

They gave him a Bible. His wife also had a serious health scare, but recovered against all the odds. “I gradually came to realise that nothing makes any sense without God,” he says.

She was also the one who spotted the ad for the job he now has in a farming magazine.

Now, he’s excited by the challenges that Tir Dewi offers. “We are a listening organisation,” he says, “and a signposting service. We can’t fix the car but we know a good mechanic.”

In other words, its role will be to identify the problem a farming family faces and find the best person or place to seek a resolution.

And even though it’s in its infancy, it has already made a difference, with 46 cases dealt with. Now, Gareth and his expanded team are looking forward to doing much more.

If you’d like to know more or consider volunteering, please contact Gareth on Gareth@tirdewi.co.uk or call on 07970180408