Mike Duxbury, Co-Founder of Inclusive Farm
My own personal experience as a totally blind person has given me the drive and passion to conceive this project and strive to see it to fruition. I lost my sight completely when I was only 6 years old, however against all odds; I knew that I wanted a life and career in farming. Whilst I was realistic in knowing that I would have some limitations I was determined to find out how I could attain my goal.
Having been accepted into Warwickshire College of Agriculture, as the first ever blind person, I found my niche with my love of pigs. As most pigs are farmed on an intensive basis in units I found I could navigate and work alone with no restrictions. I then proceeded to gain all the certificates that I could, including my pig craftsmanship and AI (Artificial Insemination) Certificate and my Degree in animal nutrition. Once I left college I secured a job as a feed specialist with a national animal feed company.
This was where my life and career advanced to include many areas of the pig industry. Thirty years later my love for agriculture is still as strong. Having had jobs in other industries, living my life as a blind person, I can say to this day that the farming industry had never shown me any discrimination at all.
During this time of my life I met some amazing people, who along the way inspired me. This is the experience that I wish to pass on to other disabled people and people with special needs, to show them that differences need not be a barrier to a goal or dream in farming and agriculture.
Ness Shillito, Co-Founder of Inclusive Farm
I began working with children at the tender age of 13 as a mother’s help, most weekends. I then went onto college where I received a diploma in child and maternal welfare. After working as a nanny for many years I married and had my own family. I became a cub leader, worked in a primary school as a teaching assistant, and gained a behavioral support assistant qualification. While working at the school I also fostered for our local authority. From the Primary School, I moved to work on the residential side of a specialist school, focusing on autism and behavioral difficulties. I worked in a children’s home for a time before turning my hand to adults with special needs and physical disabilities. Shortly after the pandemic, I became Mikes support worker full-time and now help run the farm.
When time allows, I enjoy walks with the dogs, music, crochet and pyrography.