In May 2019, Derek was on his farm and had just received a fresh batch of chickens. Derek’s son Ben, then aged 6, was excited about seeing the new chickens so, had come with his dad to have a look.

On the way down to the chicken house, Derek stopped at the slurry tank so that he could make the arrangements to leave it mixing while he and Ben moved on the see the chickens. Whilst at the slurry tank, Derek moved Ben to a safe area and distance out to the street, whilst he worked for a couple of minutes.

Derek remembers it being a nice calm day weather wise with no breeze.

After two minutes Derek checked on Ben only to find him walking towards him with a cut on his head. Derek’s first thought was that Ben had fallen and had hit his head so, lifted and started carrying Ben towards the house to get the cut seen to.

At that point however, Ben’s eyes started rolling in his head and after Derek placed his son on the ground, Derek also realised that his son wasn’t breathing. Ben had been overcome by the fumes from the slurry tank.

Fortunately, Derek had been on a first aid awareness course a couple of years prior to that so, started doing CPR right away. It took roughly about one and a half minutes before Ben thankfully started breathing again.

Derek’s message to everyone, but particularly the farming community knowing the everyday dangers that exist in this high risk environment, is to avail of the free first aid training being offered by CAFRE at present, through their Farm Family Key Skills initiative.

In Derek’s own words:

"Knowing what to do in those few minutes saved my son’s life and I would never have forgiven myself if I hadn’t been able to save him"

CAFRE’s free first aid training, being delivered by their training partners Global Horizon Skills Ltd, is now available via an online evening session, easily accessible by all the family via Zoom, in the comfort of your own home.

To find out more, please contact Colette on Tel: 028 822 50544 or email

or Catherine on