Staff at a Northamptonshire pub swapped roles for a special night of fundraising in memory of a popular regular who took his own life on New Year’s Day.
The Turning Tables dining experience on Tuesday raised nearly £1,000 and marks the first in a series of charity events organised by The Red Lion in Hellidon, in aid of three mental health and suicide charities close to the family’s heart.
Leonard Eadon, 22, known as Len, from Napton-on-the-Hill, tragically took his own life on the morning of January 1.
The only child of Andy and Lynda Eadon, he was a popular figure in the local community, and between his studies, often worked with his dad at the family business, F L Eadon & Son Farm, in Southam.
Andy and Lynda said: “Losing our son, Len, as we did, and at such a young age was a massive shock. It has left an equally large void. We have also seen so many of his friends who are hurting badly and are shocked by what happened.
“We decided, early on, that we need to do something to try to prevent other parents, families and friends from going through a similar, dreadful experience.
“The response from the local farming community, and wider, was immediate and so very heart warming. Of course it will never replace our fantastic, caring, humorous and loving son and friend. But knowing others care and hearing their tales of shared experiences and laughter with him goes a long way.
“Len enjoyed meals and drinks with his friends at the Red Lion. They have kindly set up some amazing fundraising events in March and April to help support Len’s legacy. We are touched and very grateful to them, their customers and everyone who has made donations.”
The former Southam College student also had his sights set on a career in agriculture having recently completed a degree in Rural Enterprise and Land Management at Harper Adams University in Shropshire.
Len’s funeral took place at Banbury Crematorium on what would have been his 23rd birthday, February 14.
He was involved in all sorts of hobbies, including drumming, sports and clay pigeon shooting as well as being a talented mechanic. And his funeral procession included a Landrover which he had recently rebuilt from scratch with his best friend.
His uncle, Larry James, who is helping with the fundraising campaign, said: “It’s been an absolutely unbearable time. It’s really hard to grieve. Firstly because of the shock, you’re thinking it can’t be possible.
"Secondly, you can’t work out why he did it and we will probably never know, and thirdly, constantly asking yourself, what could I have done? It’s the same for all his friends and family.
“I spoke to him the evening before he went out with a friend to a New Year’s Eve party and everything seemed fine. This sadly shows the importance of young people opening up about their fears and worries. It is okay to say ‘all is not okay’ and to ask for help.”
The Red Lion’s Turning Tables event invited customers to be wined and dined as part of a topsy turvy evening of hospitality which saw front of house staff swap roles with kitchen staff. It was the first of three events at the pub, total proceeds from which will be divided between the Eadon family’s nominated causes - PAPYRUS, The Farm Safety Foundation and The Farming Community Network.
PAPYRUS works to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by shattering the stigma around suicide, including equipping young people and their communities with the skills to recognise and respond to, suicidal behaviour.
The Farm Safety Foundation, also known as Yellow Wellies, is a Stratford-based charity dedicated to raising awareness of farm safety and mental wellbeing in farmers.
The Farming Community Network is a voluntary organisation, based in Northamptonshire, which supports farmers and their families, with a particular focus on preventing suicide in farming and rural communities.
Since opening the fundraising campaign a few weeks ago, the family has already raised more than £18,000 for the charities.
The next event being hosted by The Red Lion is a Chilli and Quiz Night, on Sunday, April 17. Tickets for this are £10 per person, available from the pub.
An Easter raffle will also be drawn on the same evening, all proceeds being added to the total pot. Prizes include a Fortnum and Mason Hamper and Afternoon Tea for two at The Castle at Edgehill, a sister business in the Freespirit portfolio. Tickets available at £1 each from the pub.
Red Lion General Manager Jane Hearsay added: “What a fantastic night was had by all for our Turning Tables evening. An incredible evening where roles were reversed, the front of house served up a treat out of the kitchen, served excellently by our kitchen team.
“A huge thank you to everyone who attended and also those who supported with donations from afar for truly amazing charities.”
The family is now planning an event in celebration of Leonard’s life on June 5 at Stoneleigh Park Estate, in Kenilworth. The day will be themed around farming in the community and will include agricultural competitions, Best Scarecrow Fancy Dress and sporting competitions.
Donations can also be made via https://leneadon.muchloved.com/ where there is also further information about other events being planned in Len’s memory.