Epic egg and spoon race will continue poultry farmer's charitable legacy

Family of poultry farmer Patrick Joice, set off on the first leg of the 130-mile relay race

Launching the 'Scrambling for YANA' egg and spoon race, from left, Patrick Joice's mother Jenny, NFU chief poultry adviser Aimee Mahony, YANA representative Di Strangroom, Patrick's children Jack and Olivia Joice with their mother Zanna and grandfather Nigel - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

A 130-mile egg and spoon race is under way to remember an inspirational Norfolk poultry farmer - and to continue his fundraising legacy.

Patrick Joice died in 2019, at the age of 46, after a courageous battle against both an incurable cancer and the severe depression which followed his diagnosis.

But he used his experiences to raise awareness of mental health issues in the farming community, and was the driving force behind the "Naked Farmer" cricket day which generated £53,000 for rural mental health charity YANA (You Are Not Alone).

Norfolk poultry farmer Patrick Joice pictured at the Naked Farmer charity cricket day in 2019

Norfolk poultry farmer Patrick Joice pictured at the Naked Farmer charity cricket day in 2019, which raised £53,000 for mental health charity YANA - Credit: Chris Hill

Now his family has helped to launch another fun charitable mission in his memory, starting from their farm in South Raynham, near Fakenham.

His wife Zanna and children Jack, 12, and Olivia, nine, carried eggs in spoons for the first leg of the relay, and they also hope to join the culmination of the journey at the British Pig and Poultry Fair at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire on Tuesday.

She said: "Patrick would be thinking this is great. He would be having a giggle, but he would be humbled by it and he would want the industry to get behind it, like they did with the cricket day, and throw their support behind YANA.

"It is getting behind what he started. He was one of the first to really open up and talk about mental health in agriculture, and really be someone that people looked to and said: 'He has stood up and made a point, and we will continue that'.

"There are so many people that use YANA's services now - not only for counselling, but also to be mental heath trained. I think that is really important and a lot of the money we have raised has helped those courses go ahead and helped fund counselling for people, so I think it is really important to keep that open communication going.

"The more people can give, the better it will become."

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The 30-strong relay team, including many of Mr Joice's friends and colleagues, is being led by Aimee Mahony, chief poultry adviser for the National Farmers' Union (NFU).

"Ever since we sadly lost Patrick we wanted to do something as a legacy to raise money for YANA," she said.

"Patrick to me was always about having fun, but pushing yourself and being inclusive, so we came up with the idea of the egg and spoon race because it fits the poultry theme, it is a bit of a challenge but everyone can have a go - you can walk or you can run, you can do half a mile or ten miles, whatever you want. 

The Scrambling for YANA charity egg and spoon race set off from Uphouse Farm in South Raynham

The Scrambling for YANA charity egg and spoon race set off from Uphouse Farm in South Raynham - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"We wanted to raise money and raise awareness for rural mental health because people are struggling in all sectors with these challenging times, inflationary costs, and we've just had the worst winter for avian influenza.

"So it is more important than ever for people to talk to each other and know that charities like YANA are there if we need them."

This is not the only fundraising event which Mr Joice has inspired in Norfolk. Later this year, his friend Richard Grant plans to raise money for YANA by running 52 laps of a 1.8 mile loop around the village of Gayton, near King's Lynn, from "Sunrise to Sunset".

Family of poultry farmer Patrick Joice, set off on the first leg of the 130-mile relay race, to rais

Patrick Joice's son Jack and daughter Olivia set off on the first leg of a 130-mile relay race to raise money for mental health charity YANA - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Emma Haley, charity manager for YANA, said: "YANA was honoured to receive so much support from Patrick Joice and the Naked Farmer Cricket Day almost three years ago.

"It is an inspiration that his legacy lives on and mental health remains at the forefront of people’s minds. We can’t thank everyone enough, especially the Joice family, for getting behind these events, taking part, and donating."

Norfolk poultry farmer Patrick Joice, who died in 2019

Norfolk poultry farmer Patrick Joice, who died in 2019 - Credit: Sonya Duncan