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Inclusive Farm

2177. Mike Duxbury
2178. Ness Shillito

Mike Duxbury and Ness Shillito, from Northamptonshire, run ‘Inclusive Farm’, a charity welcoming students with diverse needs onto their farm each week to provide them with the confidence and skills to pursue a career in agriculture.

Mike lost his sight aged 6 from infantile glaucoma, but having grown up on a farm, he knew that he wanted a career in farming. Mike struggled with getting admitted into agricultural colleges due to his visual impairment, until he was accepted into Warwickshire College of Agriculture. Wanting to help support others in similar circumstances, he teamed up with Ness, who has a background in childcare and education. In 2021 the pair transformed an overgrown site in Bedfordshire into a working farm with the aim of making agriculture more accessible for disabled people. The self-funded Farm provides an opportunity for students and people with disabilities to learn practical skills such as animal husbandry, agricultural skills and bringing products to market.

Mike hopes to expand to have more Inclusive Farms around the UK, and is currently looking at options for a site in Scotland, which will enable them to provide more opportunities to a wider range of young people. 

In a personal letter to Mike, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“I was inspired to learn of your own personal story and your determination to support others facing similar barriers.

“Together with Ness, you have transformed an overgrown site into a flourishing, working farm that is welcoming students every week and giving them the skills and confidence to succeed in agriculture. 

“Your passion for farming, and your mission to build greater awareness and understanding of diversity, inclusion and equality in agriculture, business, and society at large, is remarkable.”

In a personal letter to Ness, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“Thank you for all you are doing to make agriculture more accessible to disabled people.

“Through your Inclusive Farm, you are using your expertise to offer a huge variety of opportunities. From handling, feeding and caring for animals, to practical tasks about the farm, you are providing memorable and valuable experiences for young people, whichever career path they choose”.

Farming Minister, Mark Spencer MP, said:

“I’m delighted that Mike and Ness are receiving this well-deserved award in recognition of their inspiring work to make farming more accessible.

“We are always encouraging people to get involved in farming and Inclusive Farm supports people with disabilities and diverse needs to learn new skills and gain confidence. It is this type of work that helps break down barriers and enables more people to enter the industry.”

Congratulating Mike and Ness on their award, Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, said:

“A huge well done to Mike and Ness for their outstanding work at Inclusive Farm making agriculture accessible to everyone, no matter their disability. They are two highly deserving Points of Light!”

Mike and Ness said:

“We are delighted to receive the Prime Minister’s Point of Light Award. We are truly humbled to receive this accolade, for the work that we do. Creating a better world & community environment for people with difference, through our Inclusive Farm project. We hope that this award will lead to a greater awareness and better understanding of Diversity, Inclusion & Equality, throughout society and business”.

Find out more about ‘Inclusive Farm

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