Woman does Cold Water Challenge to bring relief to stressed-out farmers

By Kirsty Wynn

Most people would choose a hot shower in the morning over a freezing cold dip in a water trough but Sian Noble-Campbell doesn't run with the herd.

The Waikato farmer has jumped fully clothed into freezing creeks, streams and troughs on her Matahuru Valley farm to raise money for struggling farmers.

Noble-Campbell is taking part in the 30 Day Cold Water Challenge to raise funds for the Will To Live Charitable Trust New Zealand

Farmers - who are essential workers and dealing with high demands over lockdown - face an eight-week wait to see a psychologist or counsellor if they are struggling with mental health.

Noble-Campbell said the wait time was devastatingly long for many farmers who struggled with the isolation and pressure farm work can bring.

Money raised for Will to Live would provide three private counselling sessions per farmer with the aim of only a two to three-day waiting time.

"Looking after the mental health of farmers is close to my heart because our son James is a young shepherd and we are farmers," Noble-Campbell said.

"We lost one of our former shearers to suicide and we know how devastating it was for his family."

"Farming can be very isolating so anything I can do to cut down the wait time to talk to a counsellor is worth it."

Noble-Campbell is today's Lockdown Hero.

Noble-Campbell's daily photos and funny videos have kept those following her progress entertained. She had raised more than $3,500 through her Givealittle page.

Sian Noble-Campbell has spent up to 10 minutes each day in freezing water to raise money for farmers. Photo / Supplied

"We have more than 30 troughs on our farm and there's not many I haven't sat in," she said.

"I have been in the duck ponds and creeks and jumped off the waterfall."

Not one to do things by halves, Noble-Campbell has been increasing the time in each trough or pond each day and is nearly up to 10 minutes.

Her husband Andrew had pledged $10 a day to her challenge.

"He has been really supportive and comes with me and sometimes gives me a lift home on the bike when it's really cold.

"I'm talking him into joining me on the final day and some friends said they will double their donation if he does so the pressure is on."

Noble-Campbell said when the challenge is over it's likely she will keep on with the icey dips.

"It is for a cause I am passionate about it but it actually makes me feel really alive.

"It has been good for me mentally and physically and I feel it is good for the soul."

The Will To Live Foundation was founded in 2018 by Elle Perriam after her partner, a young farmer, took his own life.

The charity has been promoting mental health awareness, providing one-on-one support, free education and wellbeing tools to small rural communities, often isolated from mental health resources.

In 2019 the charity hosted a nationwide "Speak Up Tour" throughout rural New Zealand, reaching over 10,000 farmers.

This month it will launch "RuralChange" which is a fund for private psychologists for New Zealand Farmers.

To check out Sian's progress click here

Where to get help:

• Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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