"All these people who are killed, they’re reported at the end of the year as a number... but every one of them has a story – there’s a family, there’s a community.”
This is why, in her own words, Norma Rohan, along with her husband Brian, founded Embrace FARM, the support group for those affected by farm accidents, following the death of Brian’s father, Liam. Embrace FARM is in the midst of organising its third annual remembrance service to commemorate those killed in this type of tragedy.
This Sunday, they are organising a memorial service centred around children who have been affected by fatal or non-fatal farm accidents. It sees the charity putting families up in the Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise, a day out for families in Castlecomer Discovery Park, workshops with counsellors on topics such as bereavement, all before the Remembrance Service itself on Sunday at 2pm. There will be tea and sandwiches after the service. Given their usual host venue isn’t free for this gathering afterwards, Embrace is hiring a marquee (which brings the cost of catering for this occasion to a grand total of €6,500), but the Rohans stress that the social element of the day is a vital one.
“We found at the service last year that people started swapping numbers,” says Norma. And this is exactly what she and Brian want, as they are trying to establish a network of people around the country who can share their experiences and support and help each other.
When Irish Country Living visited Brian and Norma on their farm in Shanahoe, Co Laois, recently, many anecdotes were relayed about people they’ve come in contact with through Embrace since it was set up two years ago. They’ve met families where there was no will in place, or life assurance, where the farm bank account was frozen for many years or where spouses were left to run a farm despite having no farming knowledge or expertise.
Listen to a podcast with Mary Phelan, who reported on the charity's work for Irish Country Living:
Embrace has stepped in and helped, where it can, on all these matters and more. For example, Brian has briefed families on what to expect at an inquest. Before speaking to him, many families wouldn’t have realised that they don’t, for example, have to sit in for the medical report.
“People think these are just superseding courts of law and that you can’t question what happens and what goes on there, but you can,” says Brian.