David is the seventh generation of Gwatkin to farm in the Welsh Marches. His background and his personal experience make him all too aware of the often overwhelming pressures farmers, their families and communities can face.
"Like farming, being a chaplain is often about leaving the comfort of our church, our home behind and getting out there, getting muddy, going where the need is. Being involved in agriculture makes me understand the pressures of time. We're all quite proud and self-sufficient people. Picking up the phone to ask for help or to flag up our vulnerabilities can be a very difficult thing to do."
David sees part of his role as building face to face relationships with those he seeks to support on the ground. For him, ministry might take place over a fence in a field, a corner of the livestock market or in the cabin of a tractor. Liaising and collaborating with other organisations both locally and nationally is of great importance to David's role enabling him to signpost people to appropriate organisations and assist practically as well as pastorally.
An area of particular concern for David is mental health issues affecting rural youth. Having suffered with depression in his early twenties, David is cognisant of how mental illness, left undiagnosed and untreated can easily escalate and the efficacy of a pair of listening ears at hand or available "where you are and when you need them."
David works with the Farming Community Network for Herefordshire. He is co-chair of the Agricultural Chaplain's Association and is a past National Young Farmers Federation Personal Development Team member. He worked on the Rural Plus Project in 2014 and through Young Farmers helped raise awareness and educate rural youth about stress related illnesses and the dangers of depression.