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In 2019, Will To Live launched its first big project “The Speak Up Tour”

When Elle’s partner Will passed away, she inherited his black huntaway dog Jess, who become the idea and mascot for The Speak Up Tour, as the black dog is the symbol for mental illness.


The tour was created to host numerous mental health awareness events in rural towns throughout New Zealand. Bringing positive wellbeing tools to those most isolated.


These evenings were either hosted in pubs or town halls, where farmers felt most comfortable to speak up about their experience with depression and mental illness. Farmers we’re encouraged to bring their working dogs along to the event for a special opening ceremony.

The event started with a moment of silence with 150+ farmers and their beloved dogs in a line. Jess (Wills old black huntaway), broke the silence with a bark and 50 dogs barked in unison with her. This ceremony was to highlight the importance that ‘it only takes one black dog to speak up for the rest to follow’ and how each of us have the power to start a ripple effect.


Speakers included; Rural Support Trust, Local Farmers sharing stories of hope, psychologists and mental health professionals. 


The Speak Up Tour was a huge success reaching 18 rural towns, 10,000 farmers and raising $50,000 for Will To Live through the charity auctions hosted at each event.

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