By Debbie James

Farmers can go days without seeing anyone so for some it can be a lonely job.

Yes, in these difficult times, farming may be the best job in Pembrokeshire as you can’t catch a virus if you don’t meet anyone to give it to you.

But loneliness is real for many and, as Christmas approaches, it will be felt most acutely in the farming sector.

When a farmer or farm worker retires, they can become isolated if they don’t have opportunities to meet other farmers socially.

They may have worked long hours alone and were too preoccupied with farming to find the time to take up hobbies or social interests off the farm.

And there is a proud culture of doing things for yourself in rural areas, making it difficult for people to admit to feeling cut off.

There is a common misconception that rural communities are close-knit and provide a cushion against loneliness but that isn’t always the case, and the closure of post offices and pubs have removed opportunities for chance meetings.

Families can become fractured when the younger generation move away from rural communities with older people less able to see their children and grandchildren.

Christmas mostly offers an opportunity for those chasms to be filled as families come together but many of us will need to stay apart this year.

It could be a tough time for us all so this year more than ever we mustn’t forget our relatives, friends and neighbours.

While we may not be able to meet physically, we can engage with others in many other ways – an unexpected phone call, letter or gift can let someone know that you care.

Our normal festive rituals may be on hold but we can create new ones that bring us all closer together.