A Rest and Recuperation Scheme has been established by the Hadfield Trust to give farming families a "valuable break" from the stress and financial hardship that currently characterises the UK countryside. Costing over £100,000, the scheme was funded through public donations of £52,000, a figure that was then matched by the government's Countryside Agency.

250 families from one of the worst affected foot and mouth areas, Cumbria, will be offered three day midweek breaks within the county. Organisers argue that people will be able to take advantage of the region's variety of hotels and guesthouses without the worry of spreading the virus.

Secretary of the Hadfield Trust, Michael Hope, commented: "In many cases, fell farmers were already existing on very low incomes and now face major financial disaster with the destruction of the flocks and herds they had built up over the generations. [Holidays will also be useful because] once culling has been completed and the quarantine period on the farm served, the usual dawn-to-dusk workload ceases and tensions among families undoubtedly increase."

From the Countryside Agency, director Margaret Clark added: "People living in those parts of the country which have been worst hit by foot-and-mouth desperately need some kind of respite from their daily worries."

She explained that the scheme would also help to boost several industries in Cumbria, as the virus attacked all parts of the local economy. Due to fears of spreading the foot and mouth virus further, the tourist industry in Cumbria has been particularly affected. Clark said: "This is an innovative scheme which will not only benefit the Cumbrian farming community but, as the funds are being spent within the county, will also help the wider local economy."

Farmers interested in the scheme should ring Andrew Humphries on 01768 242 130.