DPJ Foundation's Emma Picton-Jones receives Honorary Fellowship


Emma Picton-Jones, founder of the DPJ Foundation, has today (Monday 8 July) received an Honorary Fellowship by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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The DPJ Foundation was set up by Emma in July 2016 following the death of Daniel Picton-Jones. The foundation aims to support people in rural communities with poor mental health, especially men in the agricultural sector.

In January 2019, The DPJ Foundation launched “Share the load” – a 24-hour text and phone service.  It is run by Samaritan-trained volunteers who will ensure that anybody who requests help will have access to a counsellor within 24 hours.  Trained staff will go wherever they are needed – the farm, the home, online, or anywhere else.  Since it has launched it has helped the equivalent of one client per week.

Emma has already won a Pride of Britain award for her work.  During the ceremony, she said:

“I graduated on this stage ten years ago and never did I imagine I’d be asked back, let alone to receive this amazing honour.

When I left the University I never imagined life taking the path it has.  Nobody ever imagines being a widow at the age of 27 but that is where I found myself three years ago.  I wasn’t about to sit down and let this awful tragedy define myself or my children.

“Farming is one of the most rewarding occupations but it comes with huge isolation, financial pressures and animal diseases like TB, that cause huge issues in our communities.

Mental health will affect us all at some point in our lives and is the biggest killer in men under the age of 45 and is the leading cause of health problems in the UK.  However, there is an important message that needs to be delivered – although we all will be affected by mental health, we all have the ability to come through and become stronger people.  It can be a scary place when you’re dealing with something you don’t quite understand.  We are far better at dealing with things we can see and although you can’t see mental health, it is no less important.”

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In her speech, Emma also offered advice to the new graduates.  She added:

“I thought about what advice I would have wanted sat here ten years ago.  Things don’t always go to plan but that’s ok.  Generally, it can open doors to new adventures.  It’s ok to worry and stress but if it gets too much make sure you ask for help.  Don’t battle on alone, there is always somebody to turn to.  Talk about what’s going on and about how you’re feeling, what’s upsetting you, don’t hold it all in.  There are never too many times to ask someone how they are, listening to someone can be the greatest gift you can give.  If you’re worried about someone or something don’t ignore it.  These things just don’t go away.  Take action and support people.  Helping one person might not change the world, but it will change the world for one person. 

Stepping out of this room will be the start of a new adventure.  It’ll bring many happy experiences.  And it could possibly be tainted with a few harder ones as I’ve found.  Embrace every opportunity life gives you, you never know what’s around the corner.  Take care of each other in this new chapter in your lives and don’t forget that having fun is vital.”

Presenting the Honorary Fellowship to Emma was Professor Mererid Hopwood.  She commented:

“As we honour our new graduates, it’s not always the case that the part of the ceremony where we turn to honour a new fellow, is also an opportunity to honour one of our very own.  A few years ago, not so long ago, Emma was standing over there.

Emma’s career has been no ordinary career.  For Emma, still a teacher, still inspiring her class pupils, has also found a much bigger classroom and a different stage for her inspiration.  The Daniel Picton Jones Foundation aims to support people in rural communities with poor mental health, especially men in the agricultural sector.  With mental health being such a big problem across the agricultural sector, the foundation that Emma has established, breaks down the stigma that surrounds mental health and provides support services for those in rural communities.

Emma through her experience, warmth and compassion can inspire people to listen.  And that’s one of the main achievements of the charity.  To make people listen and talk.  As our new graduates leave I’m sure, Emma, your story will prove inspirational to them.  No matter what lies ahead, the ups and the downs, you have shown us all that there is a way forward, always, but that it’s a way best travelled when the load is shared.”

For further information about the DPJ Foundation go to http://www.thedpjfoundation.com/

Further Information

For more information please contact Arwel Lloyd, Principal PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676663 / arwel.lloyd@uwtsd.ac.uk