Rural Health Forum And Action Cancer Join Forces

NI Agri Rural Health Forum Launch Health & Wellbeing Partnership with Action Cancer

At this year’s Balmoral Show, the NI Agri Rural Health Forum, facilitated by Rural Support, launched its health and wellbeing campaign in partnership with Action Cancer for the forthcoming year.

Last year the health forum partnered with the British Heart Foundation to encourage members of the farming community to get their blood pressure checked and this was facilitated at local marts across the province by the Farm Families Health Check Van.

This year’s partnership with Action Cancer will have a focus on skin cancer within the farming industry as well as others, and the importance of early detection.

The objectives include creating an awareness of skin cancer prevention and signs and symptoms of the most commonly occurring cancers.

Dr Rebecca Orr, local rural GP Registrar and Chairperson of the NI Agri Rural Health Forum said, “The forum has a long-term strategy in place to highlight particular health inequalities faced by farmers.

Lauren Vance (YFCU Health & Wellbeing Chairperson), Cecelia Daly (BBC Weather Forecaster), Lauren Hamilton (Sales Development Manager NFU Mutual), John McLenaghan (Deputy President UFU), Pamela Caldwell (Project Support Officer at Rural Support), Stephanie Berkeley (Manager of Farm Safety Foundation), Prof Gerry Gormley, (QUB) and Iona McCormack (Senior Skin Cancer Specialist Nurse).

“Given we are necessarily outdoor workers we are at greater risk of long-term UV exposure so this year we will focus on increasing awareness of early detection and prevention of skin cancer.

“During our successful partnership with the British Heart Foundation, we learned the value and efficiency of collaboration with leaders in their fields.

“Together with Action Cancer we want to bring evidence-based information about skin cancer that is tailored to farmers. Last year we challenged farmers to have their blood pressure checked.

“This year our key ask is ‘You check your stock, you check the weather but do you check your skin?’. I am glad to say our joint media has reached millions and has led directly to a number of diagnoses already.”

Action Cancer’s Skin Cancer Detection Service was launched a year ago and is delivered by a highly qualified and experienced nursing specialist team.

The free service is available Northern Ireland wide on board the Big Bus and at Action Cancer House in Belfast and supplements services available in GP practices across NI, increasing choice and accessibility.

Iona McCormack who has over 30 years experience in Dermatology and heads up the Skin Cancer Detection service at Action Cancer said: “The majority of people in NI have pale skin that tends to freckle and burn easily.

Dr Rebecca Orr (Rural GP & Chairperson on the NI Agri Rural Health Forum), Prof Nigel Hart (QUB), Pamela Caldwell (Project Support Officer at Rural Support), Paul Crawford (MRCVS, VetNI) and Prof Gerry Gormley (QUB).

“Episodes of sun burning and tanning will increase your risk of skin cancer. Outdoor workers are particularly at risk and we are really keen to spread awareness of sun safety amongst the agricultural community.

“Non – Melanoma skin cancer which includes Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma commonly occurs in outdoor workers.

“Our aim is to detect skin cancer as early as possible and create an awareness of skin cancer prevention and signs and symptoms of the most commonly occurring skin cancers.

“Be vigilant and check your skin for any changes and if you are concerned, please do get in touch with us. To book an appointment with us please visit:”.

If you would like more information on the NI Agri Rural Health Forum, please visit the NI Farm Support Hub on

  • Rural Support was established in 2002 and provides a range of services for farmers and farming families across Northern Ireland including a support line. It also provides face-to-face support through its mentoring programme, help with sourcing information and advice about a wide range of issues:
  • The support line (0800 138 1678) is available 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday (voicemail and options available at all other times. Freephone from all UK landlines and mobiles).
  • Rural Support co-ordinates the Social Farming Support Service for Northern Ireland, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA).