Richard Layton, who ran Dewdales Hope Farm in Bodenham, near Leominster, was just 53 when he died. His funeral took place last Saturday (April 15) – just two days after what would have been his 54th birthday.
Around 800 people attended the service and heard how he would light up a room with his presence. However, sadly, he was gripped by depression, and despite being able to talk about it, could not carry on.
Mr Layton’s wife, Marie-Louise Layton, now hopes he can leave a legacy.
“Richard was the kindest, most patient man you could meet,” said Mrs Layton.
“Wherever he went, he took the time to actually get to know people. There were over 800 people at his funeral (we lost count), which gives you some idea of the kind of man he was.
“One of his farming friends came up to me afterwards and told me that when Richard walked into a room, it was like a light was turned on. In spite of (or, maybe, because of) his own struggles, he always made time for everyone.
“As a husband and father, he was just incredible. A few years ago, our daughter told me that she wasn’t going to get married. When asked why, she said it was because she knew she would never find a man to love her as much as Richard loved me.
“In spite of his long, long struggle, he always tried to look on the bright side and our house was mainly a very happy place, full of inappropriate laughter.
“Something that I am immensely grateful for is the fact that Richard was very open about his illness. He talked about the fight he had to keep the demons away and I know, from many conversations, that he desperately didn’t want his story to end this way.
“I feel privileged that he was able to share intensely personal experiences with me, giving me a much better understanding than most.
“I couldn’t help Richard to hold on but I can continue his work in making sure people realise it’s ok to speak out.”
Rich Sparey, a family friend of Mr and Mrs Layton, provided a powerful reading at the funeral, which Mrs Layton shared on Facebook. It has so far been liked over 1,000 times, with more than 2,000 people resharing it.
“Since I posted on Facebook, I have had so many messages from strangers,” said Mrs Layton.
“I am overwhelmed that so many people are in a similar situation- it’s heartbreaking.”
As well as his wife, Mr Layton leaves behind his children, George and Lily.
Lizzie McDonald, Mrs Layton’s cousin, will be running the London Marathon this Sunday (April 23) with money raised going towards We Are Farming Minds, a charity that helps raise mental health awareness in the rural communities of Herefordshire and support the wellbeing of farmers.
If you’re a Herefordshire farmer or you’re concerned about someone you know and want someone to talk to, you can call the We Are Farming Minds 24/7 helpline on 0808 802 0070 or text 07786 203130.