Harriet Bremner with Poppy and Elle Perriam with Jess the Huntaway. Photo credit Dana Johnston

Empowering Canterbury farmers

by Ann van Engelen

The Rolleston Lions Club is hosting the Two Rural Heroines event where two young women will make their first public appearance together to help change the way those in the rural sector think about loss.

Harriet Bremner, children’s author and safety campaigner and Elle Perriam, founder of Will To Live, have both lived through tremendous grief, suffering the loss of their partners. The duo are telling their stories to change the thinking of rural New Zealand when it comes to farm health and safety and mental health and wellbeing.

Harriet, 31, who lost her partner in a farming accident, knows the importance of being practical when it comes to farm health and safety.

“It concerns me that we have this ‘she’ll be right’ and ‘it’ll never happen to me’ attitude in rural New Zealand. The thing is that it can happen to anyone, even the most experienced operators,” she said.

A former primary school teacher, Harriet is now fulfilling her lifelong dream of writing children’s books using her beloved sausage dog, Poppy as a character. Through her journey of grief, Harriet also realised the importance of looking after mental health and attended a Will To Live evening where she connected with Elle.

Elle, 22, lost her boyfriend to suicide, inspiring her to start the Will to Live Foundation and travel the country on the Speak Up Tour. Harriet is releasing her third book called Use Your Voice. A story about Elle’s huntaway Jess and Poppy — where Jess discovers how to regain her bark after losing it.

“It is a story targeting social inclusion for children, where adults can start to have important conversations with their kids about how to tell someone you trust how you feel. That it is OK to cry when you feel the need to cry and to surround yourself with good people who care.”

The event will be at Rolleston College Auditorium, 631 Springston Road, Rolleston on Monday, March 2 from 7.30-9.30pm. Tickets are available at eventbrite.co.nz/e/rolleston-2-rural-heroines-tickets-95295524479.