On 15th October GTH staff at Sedgemoor Auction Centre welcomed a special guest, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who officially opened the Derek Mead Health Room.

The free clinic offers both physical and emotional health checks, supporting farmers and agricultural workers who usually do not have the time to visit a GP.

Robert Venner MRICS, Partner in charge of the market, notes that farmers are generally not the best at going to the doctor so this facility helps to make it easier for them. The Derek Mead Health Room is run by a NHS nurse and provides a convenient, private space for farmers to visit and discuss any health issues.

Mr Venner commented: “Farmers lead busy lives and sometimes caring about their health can take a back seat. We believe this initiative goes some way in helping them put their well-being further up the list.”

Katherine Hawke, Director of Junction 24 and Chairwoman of The Derek Mead Health Room Committee, says: “We opened the Derek Mead Health Room in memory of my father. He was well known in the farming community and was a passionate advocate in the efforts to provide farmers with the care and support they need. He always believed that more could be done for the farming community and that health care, especially, needs to be more accessible.”

The Derek Mead Health Room has been set up with the immense support of local bodies, which include, Junction 24, The Weston Lions Club, Taunton & Somerset and Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trusts, The Farming Community Network (FCN), Bridgwater Agricultural Society, The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), Mole Valley Farmers, Hewish, Puxton & Wick St Lawrence Harvest Home, Greenslade Taylor Hunt and Puxton Park.

The Health Room is open every second and fourth Saturday of each month. On these busy market days, an NHS nurse is on-hand to carry out essential health checks such as blood pressure monitoring and blood sugar testing, whilst also offering support for mental health concerns. Farmers can pop into the clinic with no prior appointment and speak to a nurse in confidence.

Belinda Bennett, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Nurse Team Manager and Lead Nurse for the Health Room, says “The Derek Mead Health Room has been a huge success and is making a real difference to farmers across the South West and beyond. We know that farmers can live and work in isolated communities and we are proud that we are helping people who may not otherwise access healthcare services.”

Robert Venner adds: “We are delighted that the Health Room here at Sedgemoor has been recognised at such a high level and was honoured with an official opening by Her Royal Highness.”