Lives stolen by a farm accident: those left behind never forget

After a dreadful 2014 for fatal farm accidents, Embrace FARM is there to support the families
Lives stolen by a farm accident: those left behind never forget

“You never believe something like this will happen to your family. You read about farm accidents in the newspaper and, of course, have sympathy for the families left behind. But you never imagine it happening on your family farm, until it does.”

These are the words of Majella Philpott, whose father Daniel died tragically on the family farm in July 2011.

Daniel Philpott loved his family. He was a good husband, a great father. A man who adored his grandson, also named Daniel.

This healthy 65-year-old farmer loved life on his farm in Lyre, Banteer, Co Cork. The farm he grew up on.

Daniel was a quiet man who liked the kind of music that could be found on TG4.

And he was a conscientious farmer, who treated farm safety as a priority. But alas, on July 28, 2011, Daniel lost his life due to a farm accident.

“It was a nice day,” Majella Philpot recalls. “I had meant to be with my dad on the farm in Lyre, I had been there already on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, helping him. He always enjoyed the company. I’m a teacher, so I’m off during the summer.”

“On Thursday, I was on my way to Lyre when he called to tell me that he’d manage fine, so, it being a lovely day, I went for a drive to Ballycotton.

“On that Thursday, my dad was doing fencing, with a man helping him who was operating a mechanical post driver. My dad got off his own tractor and went over to him, as he would, to talk about the good day, and of how he was flying through the work.

“And with their chat over, he was walking back to his own tractor when it started to roll. My mother was there also, and it all happened so fast. She looked over and saw him going for the tractor, out of instinct. He fell from it, the tractor rolled over him, killing him instantly.

“Shorty after one o clock, I got a call. It was my mom saying that there had been an terrible accident.”

In a state of shock, Majella made her way from Ballycotton to Lyre, to find her father still in the field where he had died. “My mother was with him,” she said. “He couldn’t be moved, because it was the scene of the accident.

“It can be hard to see your father lying in a field. It can be hard to grasp that he is gone.

“My dad was a fabulous man. He was a great family man. He doted on myself and my sister, Antoinette, completely and utterly. He loved being outside in Lyre, he loved being there.

“My father was a man who paid attention to safety. He was very conscientious of it, even when we were small. And if his grandson, Daniel, was on the farm, Dad would need to know where he was at all times.”

And like many who lose a loved one through a farm accident, Majella describes a feeling of “being robbed”.

“I had spoken to Dad that morning, and it was hard to believe that he was gone.”

“I made some enquiries with farming organisations about any support that might be there for those affected by farm fatalities, and found there was nothing.

“When Brian and Norma Rohan set up Embrace FARM, I found it was great just to talk to someone in the same boat.

“The Rohans get it, they get the loss, they get the hugeness of it. Embrace Farm organised a service last year for the bereaved families left behind after farm accidents, and the church was packed. It was a place where people listened, a place where people could talk. They could empathise with you, and you with them.

“There is now something out there, that connection with other people who have gone through something similar. Brian and Norma Rohan are phenomenal for what they have put in place.

“I just feel it is very important that we remember those who were taken from us in such a tragic way. For me to think my dad could be forgotten would break my heart, because my dad was so much more than just a statistic.”

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