Healthy mind…healthy nation…

28th May 2020

This week’s diary from homeworker and Chief Executive – Richard Rankin – in which he shares his thoughts on mental health concerns as well as how the diverse range of H&H companies are adapting their businesses

This week, we celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week and amidst the pandemic, this made it especially poignant.   At any time, those who know me, know that I am a big ambassador for promoting mental wellbeing, but now it is more important than ever.  As we watched Nicola Sturgeon communicate her ‘roadmap’ for easing the lock down in Scotland following the UK’s two weeks ago, she very much emphasised that although she was concerned to slacken the restrictions, she was equally torn by her awareness of the increasingly damaging effects that it was having on mental health.  I too share her concerns.

That’s why it has been so encouraging to see that mental health is very much at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment.  The theme this year is #KindnessMatters, and how appropriate this is given the prolonged adverse circumstances.  Despite the pandemic catapulting our lives onto a very different path, I have personally seen so many wonderful examples of this both on social media and in my own life.  I don’t know if anyone else has noticed the good deeds being done around them, helping a neighbour, taking time to contact friends and loved ones or even just a more friendly hello and sharing a smile whilst out on your daily walks or runs.

To recognise this and raise awareness internally within H&H, I asked our teams to nominate a colleague who has demonstrated an act of kindness and made a difference during these unprecedented times so I could share it with everyone in my daily emails.  I have truly loved reading and sharing these each day helping us all realise how even the smallest good deed can have a huge impact on someone else.

As I remain homebound in this new virtual world of working, I am seeing all the ways in which we have adapted to this different world.  Our Harrison and Hetherington Facebook pages are filled with movies of some amazing livestock for sale and it made me think that this is not something that I, nor our customers, would get to see every day – cattle and sheep being paraded, cat-walk fashion, on their home farm, all from the comfort of your sofa!  It makes me thankful that due to a little ingenuity and adapted systems by the team, we are able to continue our sales on the mart, using these much safer methods.

It is also reassuring for our shareholders that it has not negatively impacted the results as in the first week of our Online Timed Beef Sales we saw a top price bid of £15,000 for a Limousin bull.  Aside of the livestock auctions, we have also run our timed auction for machinery this week, which has made a nice change to have something different to auction off, and, as a general rule, tractors are less trouble than sheep and cattle!

On the subject of sheep and cattle, however, Scotland this week passed the revised Livestock Worrying – Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill, with much stronger penalties for offenders.  The bill, set in motion prior to the Covid-19 lockdown to recognise the problem of dogs upsetting livestock, is more important than ever as the country relies so much more on the countryside for exercise and escape, thus increasing the risk of these awful cases.  Last year there were 15,000 incidents reported, and this year is set to be higher given the conditions.  Following a busy lambing and calving season, farmers are left with many more livestock, as our insurance team, H&H Insurance Brokers, remind us to check your livestock insurance as sheep worrying is often not covered in standard policies.

I have mentioned previously our favourite centenarian…Captain Tom Moore – who has now been awarded a knighthood for his fundraising efforts, which are very nearly at £33 million!  This record breaker has in bleak times really touched the nation with his humble efforts.  I managed to catch him on the news where he quite fittingly talked of being kind to one another, saying “give a little smile to everyone and hope you get a smile back.”  Good advice and something my Gran used to tell me when I was a lad and something I’ve tried to do every day since – I’d strongly recommend it.  Show someone you care, spread the kindness because when you do it multiplies and before you know it we’re all feeling that little bit better.  And of course, if you can’t stay home, please stay safe.

Richard Rankin