New England farmer hits the road to raise money for Beyond Blue and awareness for those struggling on the land

GOOD CAUSE: Sheep farmer Neville Stannard is hitting the road next month to raise money for Beyond Blue through the 2017 Laser Group Monkey Off Your Back.
GOOD CAUSE: Sheep farmer Neville Stannard is hitting the road next month to raise money for Beyond Blue through the 2017 Laser Group Monkey Off Your Back.

New England sheep farmer Neville Stannard is no stranger to depression.

And he knows how hard it is for blokes to speak up. 

That’s why next month he will be riding a motorbike from Melbourne to Cairns, raising money for Beyond Blue.

He said it’s a small price to pay to help a service that assists some three million Australians living with depression or anxiety. 

“As a farmer for over 33 years I have seen many of my neighbours struggle with the pressures of drought and barely existing due to low stock prices,” he said.

“I still remember when we all had to shoot our sheep, as the cost of taking them to the sheep yards was more than the price we would have received for selling them.”

I still remember when we all had to shoot our sheep, as the cost of taking them to the sheep yards was more than the price we would have received for selling them.

Neville Stannard

For years Mr Stannard was also a volunteer firefighter and helped during the Canberra fires and Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. 

“I have seen the stress of our volunteers and the people who have lost everything,” he said.

“I travelled back to Canberra three years later to visit people whose properties I fought fires on [and] the experience was still raw.

“Being men and farmers it was hard for them to talk about their experience.

“Many [people] over 65 believe there is a stigma attached to depression and see it as a weakness and do not seek help until it reaches a crisis point.”

Mr Stannard said riding a motorbike was part of his “pressure release”. “This is how I convinced [my wife] Mariea to buy my bike,” he said.

Mrs Stannard said the pair had gone through many highs and lows on their New England property, near Uralla.

“We had to basically dig a hole and shoot our sheep because of the cost to sell them,” she said.

Bathurst 1000 champion Steve Richards’ $600,000 BMW will be travelling alongside the team during the six-day ride which is being called the 2017 Laser Group Monkey Off Your Back.

Mr Stannard will be representing Laser Plumbing Armidale [formally Tony Hoskin Plumbing in Armidale].

The team will ride through Tamworth on June 7 and Armidale on June 8.

If you would like to donate to Neville visit http://2017lasergroupmonkeyoffyourback.everydayhero.com/au/neville-stannard.