Bereavement support group Embrace FARM is to extend its network to Westmeath and it is meeting this Friday to kick-start group for Westmeath and surrounding counties.

The father of a six-year-old child who died on the family farm has urged others affected by accidents to join the Embrace FARM support network being established in Mullingar this weekend.

Padraig Higgins, who will host the meeting, said that he personally found the support network invaluable in dealing with his son James tragic death in 2008.

Friday night’s Embrace FARM ‘Information Night’, starts at 8pm in the Mullingar Park Hotel.

The Mullingar network will be established for Westmeath and surrounding counties and geared at those who have been bereaved by, survived or witnessed farm accidents and is an opportunity to meet and share stories, in an informal setting, with others affected.

“My wife Joan and I have definitely found that talking to others, who have been down the dark road we have travelled, in the Embrace FARM network very beneficial.”

You know you are talking to someone who really understands what you’ve been through and that becomes a really easy environment to talk and share your grief, which is a really positive thing.

“Our information night is with a view to establishing a support group in Westmeath that will also cater for affected people in surrounding counties.

“Every single county in the country has been affected by farm accidents over recent years but I could not emphasise enough the value of sharing your stories with others.”

Embrace FARM was founded by Co. Laois farmer Brian Rohan after his father Liam died following a farm accident in 2012 and has been providing bereavement support for farm families who have, like Brian and Padraig, lost a loved one or suffered serious injury in a farming accident.

Having started out with a Laois based support group, it has now established other groups in Galway and Cork, with the Mullingar based group it’s fourth.

Brian Rohan said that Embrace FARM has had a lot of requests across the country to establish new groups and this will be our fourth.

It makes a huge difference to people to be able to share their woes so we would really ask people who are affected to join us on Friday night.

James Higgins died on January 19, 2008 when he fell into a soak-pit on the family farm near Shannonbridge.

His father and part-time farmer Padraig has since become an advocate for the Embrace FARM organisation.

The primary objective of Embrace Farm is providing support to bereaved families through bereavement support sessions and an annual remembrance service.

The organisation last year, in response to the dramatic increase in farm accidents and fatalities, embarked on a farm safety awareness programme that has commenced with the launch of a video campaign ‘What’s Left Behind’, supported by ABP Food Group, in which it tells the harrowing legacy of farm accidents.