The Gamekeepers Welfare Trust and a local moorland group have encouraged gamekeepers and deerstalkers to seek help if they are struggling with their mental health.
The appeal came as family and friends prepared for the funeral of a young Perthshire man whose body was found in woodland near Comrie in Perthshire. Andrew Eadington, who was just 26 at the time of his death, worked as a deerstalker and volunteered for Killin Mountain Rescue Team.
Alice Bugden of the Tayside and Central Scotland Moorland group told Shooting Times: “Andrew’s death is a tragic loss which will be felt throughout our community.”
Andrew’s colleagues at Killin Mountain Rescue Team also paid tribute to him saying “We were all devastated and stunned to learn of Andrew’s sudden passing. Known to us all affectionately as ‘Dochy’, we have lost not just a committed team member, but a mate and friend who was highly regarded by all.”
Helen J Benson, Chief Executive of the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust (GWT), told Shooting Times how she saw the challenges faced by rural workers, saying: “The gamekeeping professions involve a range of challenges. Like other rural livelihoods, the isolation of these roles is just one factor which can lead to people in them being more vulnerable compared to other professions. The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust’s Jamie’s Helpline is a vital tool for all in these jobs – a free, 24/7 helpline managed by people with personal experience of these livelihoods and lifestyles.”
The GWT added free counselling to their support for the gamekeeping community last year, recognising that sometimes low mood, anxiety and depression can lead to serious wellbeing challenges without professional help. Alice Bugden also encouraged members of the wider gamekeeping community to seek help.
Alice said: “We would strongly encourage anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to access the support offered by the GWT. Many of our members and their partners have benefitted from the GWT’s STAG and HIND courses and others have accessed support from Jamie’s helpline.”
Mourners at Andrew’s funeral were asked to wear stalking tweeds, mountain rescue kit or football shirts in recognition of his work and passions.