Yesterday I had the huge privilege of judging the East Midlands round of the Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) Entertainments Competition. This is the biggest competition of the YFC calendar and takes, for some clubs, months of preparation. The standard, as always, was exceptional.
I’m always filled with pride at any YFC event as these young people lead such busy lives and they still manage to find the time to excel in some of the most unlikely competitions. Only a few weeks ago I was at a YFC competitions day for Derbyshire. I watched members of my club perform in the After Dinner Speaking competition. It was brilliant with a laugh at every turn. Only afterwards did I learn that the team had rolled home at 3am that morning after celebrating one of their birthdays, they’d milked the cows, travelled over half an hour to get to the venue for 10.30 am and still put on an amazing performance. I just love the work ethic and grit of Young Farmers’.
The first competition I ever entered in Young Farmers’ was the Pantomime in 1996. This competition is on a three year rotation of Drama, Entertainments and Pantomime. I was three months off my fourteenth birthday. My mum had a strict rule that I couldn’t join YFC until I was 14. I was delighted to have cheated a few extra months. I was cast as a dancer, this may sound glamorous but in reality I just ran across the stage flapping my arms wearing a tutu! That year we won through to the North of England Semi-finals and I loved every minute of it. From that point I competed in the plays every year for the next fourteen years until I became too old in 2010. I experienced us winning through to the National Finals three times and winning in 2007 for the first time in thirty years!
My time in Young Farmers’ was a whirlwind of competitions and socialising, I even went on an exchange to Australia in 2004. My last competition was the Drama and by a shear twist of fate it was during this play that I met D. He played a downtrodden farmer and I was his bossy wife! Start as you mean to go on! That year we were placed second at the National Finals.
The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs was first started in 1932. By the Second World War there were 412 clubs with a total of 15,000 members. Today there are 615 clubs across England and Wales. Love usually blossoms among members and YFC has become known as the Countryside Marriage Bureau. It was usually a foregone conclusion that the club Chairman and Secretary would end up husband and wife!
Aside from the competitions, the social life is second to none with some kind of event every weekend. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) was always the highlight of the social calendar. 4,000+ Young Farmers’ descend on Torquay or Blackpool for a weekend of socialising and events. 2018 saw the last AGM organised by the National Federation but I’ve heard that a similar event is to be held this year organised by clubs themselves.
If anyone reading this is thinking why is it worth being involved with YFC. I’ll tell you that the possibilities are endless. Your time in YFC as a member or advisory member is what you make it. Young Farmers’ have a ‘give it a go’ mentality and if they have a chance to do something, then they do it. It’s great to enter competitions and win because it’s something you are good at but it’s equally as rewarding and fun to enter something that you may be terrible at. I came last in the change a car tyre competition but I enjoyed doing it and it made me learn how to change a tyre. I wouldn’t have bothered otherwise. My club was known for being very good at acting and public speaking but the girls were also known for being pretty rubbish at Tug o’ War. We were literally dragged around the field! We entered every year and got the points, however few, for the overall competitions trophy and we all had a great time doing it and comparing bruises after!
I put a lot into my years in YFC but I can honestly say that I got so much more out of it and I still am. I’ve learned new skills, made friends for life and met my husband. Days like yesterday make me proud to be part of one of the best youth movements out there.
Thank you to all my lovely friends for giving me permission to use these photos! We had some amazing times in the 10-26 club!