Conversations with Clementine

Peter Milton has been supporting Black Dog Ride's mission since 2011, when he purchased, raised and auctioned a steer at the Perth Royal Show to benefit Black Dog Ride's work in starting conversations around depression.

In the 8 years since then, Peter has raised $90,000 for Black Dog Ride with the steer auctions, but even more impressive are the countless - and potentially lifesaving - conversations around depression and suicide prevention initiated by these steers (who are usually called Winston!).

Winston the Steer is auctioned at Perth Royal Show each year. He makes a few appearances during the year - last year famously at WA's Parliament House and this year on the iconic Busselton Jetty all with the aim of starting conversations which lead to improved mental health outcomes. However, Winston is sold for his meat, making for a short (albeit powerful) mental health campaign.

So Peter came up with the idea of Clementine the Mental Health Cow. Black Dog Ride's Mascot Winston is named after Sir Winston Churchill, who famously diarised about being shadowed by the black dog of depression. Sir Winston Churchill's wife was named Clementine.

Black Dog Ride's Peter Milton with Clementine I and II. Photo by David Charlesworth

Black Dog Ride's Peter Milton with Clementine II and II before their road trip.
Photo by David Charlesworth, Harvey-Waroona Reporter.

With Clementine available year round, Peter organised a road trip with her up to WA's north west to get some chins wagging and highlight the importance of grassroots conversations around depression to encourage help seeking behaviour. With the help of Illuka and LGM who funded a horse float to carry Clementine I and Clementine II on their epic adventure, Peter set off with his brother Steve, loaded down with their swags, hay and two heifers.

Departing from Dardanup in WA's south west, they headed all the way up to the top of WA, visiting schools, community groups and local businesses. They found it extremely easy to start conversations around suicide prevention when they brought the girls out! "If I stood on a street corner, no one will talk to you but if you stand there with a cow you are inundated with people wanting to know what you're doing," Peter said.

Nearly 1,000 conversations were had by Peter (and Clementine) about mental health on this road trip, an exceptional figure given it was designed, run and implemented all at a grassroots level with very little funding.

Peter's back home now, and Clementine can be found (and patted and talked to) when Peter visits Bunbury's Headspace and local community and business groups with her in tow.

Black Dog Ride's Clementine with Bunbury Headspace and Sponsors Illuka. Photo by Bunbury Mail.

Clementine meets Bunbury Headspace staff and local youth, along with long time supporters Illuka and their great staff team.

Shortly after returning from his roadtrip, Clementine II was auctioned off in Rockhampton QLD by Droughtmasters Australia for $7750 to benefit Black Dog Ride. Meanwhile, Clementine I was recently auctioned off in Boyanup WA for $3300 to benefit Black Dog Ride! She's headed for a lush paddock and a life of ease whilst Clementine III walks in her stead, helping a West Aussie cattleman kick the stigma of suicide and mental illness in our regional communities.

Our sincere gratitude goes to the Scott Family for their generous donation of Clementine I and to Deep Valley Droughtmasters for their generous donation of Clementine II to help Black Dog Ride with our work in suicide prevention.

Black Dog Ride's Clementine I Auctioned for $3300 at Landmark Boyanup

Clementine after being auctioned for $3300 at Landmark Breeding Quality F1 female sale in Boyanup WA with the tireless Peter Milton and supporters.

Inspired by Black Dog Ride and seeing first hand the impact suicide has on regional Australia, Peter, a Studmaster from Dardanup WA, utilised the ethos of using what you have, when you can, to make a positive difference in his community. Purchasing, raising, and auctioning cattle is hard yakka but for Peter, it's what he knows and the outcomes are all worth it. "The cattle seem to break down the walls and people open up. You can trust the cows, they won't tell anybody."

The logistical effort that goes into organising these projects is immense, and the support from Ag workers and businesses is always so touching, with Winstons and Clementines each year being donated, auction and associated fees being waived, and even Peter's fuel on his trip up north covered by local Lion's Clubs. Our thanks go out to all the many people involved in both the annual Winston auctions and the Clementine project, especially as we know each donor, supporter and business has been impacted by suicide.

Our biggest and most heartfelt thanks must go out to Peter Milton, his wife Judy (the brains of the outfit!) and Jarvis Polglaze who helps to lead, feed, groom, and even chase these cattle for us every single year.

Every conversation helps to shine a beacon of hope into the darkness that shadows so many who are bitten by the black dog. Peter has shown that it doesn't take a bureaucracy to shine this light into our community, just dedication...... and some cows!

You can keep up with Clementine's conversations in our community as she has even a Facebook Page:

Black Dog Ride's Peter Milton with Winston and his Clementines at Perth Royal Show 2018

Peter Miltons with Winston the Steer (right) and his lovely ladies at Perth Royal Show 2018.

*UPDATE* Clementine 1 has had a baby! Her name is Ruby <3

Give her your well wishes here.