By Gabrielle Hall
It started in 2007 by a group of 15 young rural ambassadors from across South Australia who were concerned about the growing number of men experiencing mental health issues in rural areas.
Now, the Ram ‘n’ Ewe Rural Ball – held in Jamestown’s ‘Big Shed’ – has been raising money and breaking down the stigma associated with mental health for a decade.
Attracting some 500 people each year, committee member, Helen Clark, says more than $50,000 has gone back into the local community as a result of the event.
“The idea was that it would be an opportunity for people who live, or would like to live, in a regional area and aimed to reduce social isolation by encouraging networking and the chance to meet others in a rural location,” Helen says.
“We have also raised money for beyond blue and put money back in to many local projects, including the new Big Shed canteen, equipment at the hydrotherapy pool, hospital sensory garden, various sporting club projects, including assisting with the connection of recycled water to the lawn tennis courts and local school projects.”
It isn’t all serious though.
People can have some fun in the photo booth, or even try their luck at speed dating from 7pm.
A wrist band system – with green bands for singles and red bands for couples – is operating on the night.
And the ball has also certainly achieved its goal of bringing people together to socialise, with even a number of couples having met at the Ram ‘n’ Ewe Rural Ball.
Among them is committee member and local farmer Dave Lehmann and girlfriend Emma Vasey.
“As there are so few singles events available to people in rural areas, you have to grab every chance you can to get out, meet people and – most importantly – have fun,” Dave says.
This year’s Ram ‘n’ Ewe Rural Ball theme is ‘A Night In White, with a touch of blue’ – to raise awareness of mental health issues, with proceeds going to the cause both locally and nationally.
The Ram ‘n’ Ewe Rural Ball is on Saturday, October 29.
Pictured in headline image taken by Mel Kitschke are Ram ‘n’ Ewe Rural Ball committee members saying ‘It’s Okay to Ask’; from left to right, Rachel Girdham, Sam Lang, Charlotte Burmester, Peta Caulfield, Alysha Sparks, and Kate Fitzgerald
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