David is driven by a dairy farming dream

hannah Case Studies, General

Former soldier David was seriously injured when he was struck by an armoured 4×4 in Iraq.  After leaving the Army, his mental health suffered and he took a wrong path. David was determined to make more positive life choices and when he set his sights on a new career in cattle farming, he turned to The Poppy Factory for help turning his dream into a reality.

David said: “A few weeks after arriving in Iraq, I was badly injured when I was struck by an armoured 4×4, which hit me while I was on foot. I was badly injured and it was a long and difficult road back to recovery. My head went to pieces and I made some bad decisions over a number of years.

“Although I’m from the city, I started to dream about working with beef herds. While I was trying to change my life around I was referred to Carole-Anne from The Poppy Factory. We met in Liverpool and I told her how important it was for me to be able to do farm work.

Support from The Poppy Factory

“Carole-Anne set up an interview for me at a City Farm and although it went well, I didn’t get the job. We decided to take a chance. I walked on to a farm and asked if they would help me build up some experience as a volunteer.

“They gave me the chance and after the first week, they took me on the books for a few hours.  I would drive an hour and a half from Liverpool every day through the dark, cold winter for a six am milking start. I never missed a shift.

“Carole-Anne helped me apply for training at Myerscough College but I wasn’t accepted on to the course.  I was advised to get my functional skills, so she arranged for me to start these at an adult college in Liverpool.  I also paid to do evening classes at Myerscough, which involved an 80-mile round trip.

“On some days I would work a full day at the farm, then go on to my evening course before driving home to Liverpool. In the city, I could have gone back to my old ways but I resisted because I was focused on a better goal.

“Eventually I moved into a small rented cottage near the farm.  I was taken on full-time, helping to manage a herd of over 200 dairy cows and their calves. I’ve continued training and I recently became accredited by DEFRA to carry out artificial insemination, which will open up lots more opportunities.
“I love the work I’m doing now. I’m so happy I’ve been able to realise my ambition, and to have had the support of The Poppy Factory in getting there.”

Carole-Anne Jones, an Employability Consultant for The Poppy Factory, said: “When we met in Liverpool, David told me that he wanted to work with dairy herds.  I confess to wondering how serious he was, but it became clear that he had a genuine love of farm animals.

“It was not an easy path. He was living in the city and had limited experience. But he believed I could help make it happen for him, and I came to believe he could make it happen for himself. 

“After gaining all the qualifications and training that he needed and being taken on full-time, David has shown he’s a flexible and keen learner who’s willing to put in a farm worker’s long hours. He’s a trusted worker with a bright future, and I’m proud of him for all that he’s achieved.”

Now David is a self-employed dairyman. The confidence working on the cattle farm helped David realise he has the skills to expand his working life. 

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