'Naked Farmer' cricket day raises £43,000 for mental health charity
PUBLISHED: 08:43 23 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:43 23 June 2019
A charity cricket match has raised a "phenomenal" £43,000 for the mental health charity which helped a terminally-ill Norfolk farmer cope with his depression.
The Naked Farmer Cricket Day at Brisley was organised by Patrick Joice, who runs a poultry business at Uphouse Farm in South Raynham, near Fakenham.
After being given the devastating news that he had terminal cancer in March 2018, the 45-year-old was later diagnosed with severe depression - a condition he admits he initially "didn't believe in".
He was eventually persuaded by family friends and his "amazing" wife Zanna to accept help and counselling from Norfolk-based farming mental health charity The YANA (You Are Not Alone) Project - and he was determined to return the favour by raising awareness and cash for the organisation.
The cricket day was named in honour of the Australian Facebook page The Naked Farmer, where Mr Joice first revealed his story. It encourages farmers to post nude pictures of themselves and discuss their problems, on the basis that "it takes guts to get your gear off, as it takes guts to talk about mental health".
Mr Joice, whose team of farmers won the gripping 20-over match by two runs, said he was overwhelmed by the success of the day.
"The fundraising in itself was unbelievable, but the day has beaten all expectations - and we've had a great game of cricket," he said. "When we started all this, the idea was to raise awareness of mental health in agriculture, raise some money for YANA and have some fun while doing so. I think we have done all those things."
Since first telling his story, Mr Joice said he has been inundated with calls, letters and emails from people who had been inspired to open up about their mental health.
"The one thing that has been common among all these messages and phone calls is that by putting my naked butt on the internet and talking about all the issues we have been going through, it has helped others to start to talk about the issues they are going through - and communication really helps.
"So even if it is not ringing YANA for support, just talking with your family and friends is important, keep that family close. They all said the same thing. It helps."
Since planning began in March, the cricket day has generated £43,000 from sponsorship, shirt sales and tickets - and with fundraising continuing after the event Mr Joice is confident it will top £50,000.
READ MORE: 'Some good has to come out of this' - Terminally-ill farmer's defiant battle against depression
YANA patron Melinda Raker said, as well as raising vital funds for the charity, Mr Joice's courage and honesty about telling his story had also elevated the level of awareness and conversation about mental health within the Norfolk farming community.
"Patrick is unusual because he is male, he is in farming and he has talked about mental health," she said. "12 years ago before YANA was set up, I think that would have been unheard of in Norfolk.
"When I first spoke to him in March he wanted something positive to come out of his story and it has, in spades. The YANA confidential helpline took more calls in April and May than in the previous five months. There has been a greater uptake in funded counselling, more people have spoken openly about mental health, and the social media has been in complete overdrive.
"They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Today, for Patrick and Zanna, this is a real lemonade day. Well done."
Around 300 people attended the event, which was organised by three English-Australian couples: Mr and Mrs Joice and their friends Chris and Lucy McKay, and Billy and Sara Fordham.
- The YANA (You Are Not Alone) Project offers confidential mental health support and counselling for those in farming and rural industries in Norfolk and Suffolk. Contact the helpline on 0300 323 0400 or email email@example.com.