The Rev Canon Alan Robson was one of two long-standing team members of the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LSRN) to be recognised for their work.
A founding trustee of LSRN, the Lincolnshire-based charity founded in 1999 to help and support farming and rural families through times of crisis, Canon Robson is also Lincolnshire’s agricultural chaplain.
His vital role as agricultural chaplain is often undertaken “below the radar” as he helps countless individuals and families through troubles as varied as bereavement and family disputes.
He has used the opportunity of the chaplain’s voice to champion rural issues, act as a catalyst to connect partners and networks and to care for rural folk.
Most importantly, he has achieved the recognition and respect for the role of the rural chaplain.
Also being honoured was Alison Twiddy, who has led LRSN for 14 years as its project manager.
During that time, she has shepherded the organisation as it has grown from a small charity supporting the work of the agricultural chaplain into a county-wide organisation recognised throughout Lincolnshire and beyond.
Alison is retiring in October.
The awards were made by the High Sheriff, Michael Scott, at a small, covid-secure ceremony at the Epic Centre, on Lincolnshire Showground last week.
Mr Scott said: “My year as High Sheriff has been an odd one, as the pandemic has meant I was unable to travel around the county visiting people and organisations and seeing their work at first hand.
“But because of the problems we have all experienced this year, these awards are doubly important as they reward service to our community that was so much more vital.
“Alison and Alan’s work epitomises the care, concern and understanding that LRSN has for the many issues facing Lincolnshire’s rural and farming families, made all the more complex by coronavirus and the added problems that we have all faced on a day-to-day basis.
“I have the greatest respect and admiration for all that LRSN does for our agricultural and rural communities.”
Last year, LRSN supported 160 families and carried out nearly 1,000 health checks, as well as working with organisations such as the Young Farmers, related charities, local Government and the NHS networks to enhance LRSN’s services and reach.
Chair of trustees at LRSN, Meryl Ward said: “To have two of our long-standing LRSN family members recognised by the High Sheriff is exceptional, but they are so deserving of the awards.
“They are the bedrock of LRSN’s service, combining the practical and pastoral support that we have delivered to many hundreds of families over the years; epitomising our ideals and our purpose to walk with everyone who needs a helping hand or a listening ear.”
LRSN operates a free and confidential helpline, manned by volunteers and available between 8am and 8pm, every day of the year.
Normally, health screening and a “drop-in” service are offered weekly, or fortnightly, at local livestock markets and at Spalding horticultural auction.
In March, digital health and wellbeing clinics were launched, offering virtual or telephone consultations on physical and mentally health issues.
l Full details of LRSN’s range of advice and how to access it, can be found at www.lrsn.co.uk