2021 winners follow up: Sheena Horner, Farmers Guardian Farming Hero

Last year’s Farmers Guardian Farming Hero Sheena Horner spearheaded a running campaign which captured the hearts and minds of the farming community, who supported her in their droves, raising thousands for charities along the way.

It all began with an idea. So says Sheena Horner in the opening gambit of her personal blog about how and why she launched a running campaign at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Having realised the positive effects of walking and running on her physical and mental health, the chilli farmer from Galloway wanted others to feel less alone and raise money for related charities, galvanising the farming community along the way. In October 2020, she laid down the gauntlet during Mental Health Week and challenged teams representing the four nations of the UK, and one representing the rest of the world, to run 1,000 miles by the end of January 2021. “There are 31 days in January,” says Sheena. “And if you multiply that by the number of miles in a marathon every day, it took us to about the 1,000-mile mark, which I thought was a good target. How wrong was I? The England and Wales teams hit that in the first day.” Smashing their target within a month, the teams, which saw 1,200 farmers and industry professionals take part, went on to run just short of 65,000 miles, the equivalent of two and a half times around the world. With each participant paying a £20 joining fee, #Run1000 event raised more than £60,000 for five farming charities and plans were then made to do it once again earlier this year.


The community spirit, camaraderie and vital funds raised for charities who, at the time were battling the huge financial blows Covid-19 kept delivering, were extraordinary and Sheena was named Farmers Guardian Farming Hero at last year’s British Farming Awards. Editor of FG Ben Briggs, who was on the judging panel, says: “What Sheena Horner and her #Run1000 counterparts did was nothing short of extraordinary and really showed the community spirit and togetherness which are central to the farming community. “Not only did they raise thousands of pounds for charity, they also changed the lives of certain participants and helped them transform their mental and physical health in the process.” All the activity was recorded on fitness app Strava, as the virtual running group spurred each other on to achieve new goals while raising money for The Farming Community Network, Embrace Farm, The Do More Agriculture Foundation, RSABI and the DPJ Foundation. “Our aim was to inspire rural dwellers to take to the countryside to get out and run or walk, to help improve their mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Sheena. “We also wanted to give people a forum to talk, to compete and to have fun during the darkest months of winter. Farm worker Helen Ryman says: “I started walking seven miles to and from work and then a name would flash
up on your phone saying ‘Go you with your early morning start’, and I just thought how lovely it was. “Then you would reciprocate that with somebody else and you started to get to know these people who were on the same journey as you. It was so positive and uplifting and some lifelong friends have been made from it.


“Sheena’s enthusiasm is infectious and I now have a motto in life. It sounds cliché but isn’t meant to, but it is to be more like Sheena. Be more Sheena! Alison Clark, senior agricultural consultant at SAC consultancy echoes the sentiment as a big believer in the mental well-being of farmers. “It was a good way of bringing the farming community together and raising money for a good cause. Sheena deserves this award as she managed to get us all off our backsides. It boosted our morale and got so many involved. On winning the award, Sheena said: “I might have come up with the idea but it is all about the people who took part and came on board with me. We have been blown away by its success.”