South Scotland

Dyslexic farmers' plight highlighted

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Media captionSandy McCreath said paperwork in the industry had once been rudimentary but was now essential

A campaign to highlight the prevalence of dyslexia in the farming industry is being taken to MSPs in Holyrood.

They will be told the condition affects up to 25% of people working in agriculture, compared with 10% in the general population.

They will also hear of the need to make vital forms and paperwork as easy as possible to understand and fill in.

Scottish NFU vice president Rob Livesey said people needed to be aware of the issue.

"It is changing the way that other people look at people with dyslexia and also important to see that people with dyslexia take a different and more positive view of themselves," he explained.

"They clearly have a great deal to offer - they are hugely talented many of them - and we need to be able to recognise that.

"I think that anybody that is dealing with farmers should be aware of what an issue dyslexia is."

Image caption Dyslexia affects a large number of people in the farming industry like Mr McCreath

The campaign was launched after an approach by Galloway farmer Sandy McCreath from Kirkinner who has severe dyslexia.

"Thirty years ago it was pretty rudimentary - the paperwork was secondary to your job," he explained.

"Now it is essential.

"If you make a mistake it is far more likely to be picked up on and penalised.

"We do suffer from stress quite severely and when that occurs your power of understanding drops away and you are in trouble."

Helpline number

Up to a quarter of students on some courses at Scotland's Rural College have dyslexia.

Support lecturer Gillian Conley from the Barony Campus, near Dumfries, said it could affect their ability to concentrate on lengthy reports, interpret information or complete numeric calculations.

A dedicated NFU Scotland phone number for anyone affected by the issue has been set up on 07775 804 717.

Anyone needing help is also urged to contact groups like Dyslexia Scotland.

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