Clarkson's Farm shepherdess Ellen Helliwell credits Young Farmers' Clubs for her success as it celebrates 90th year

The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) is marking its 90th year and looking forward to a more sustainable future.

The organisation, which is open to all young people aged between 10 and 28, not just those with a farming background, has reported an upsurge in membership since it’s anniversary year started in September.

Compared to September 2019, there has been a 17 per cent increase in numbers which comes as a real boost, particularly as there were fears for its future only a year ago when the Covid-19 pandemic saw it face a funding crisis.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But president of the NFYFC, Nigel Owens, said the pandemic had highlighted how much we all need local support and connections, especially in remote rural locations.

Ellen is a former YFC member and praised the organisation as it celebrates its 90th year.

“Covid-19 restrictions have had a massive impact on young people especially – further enhancing feelings of isolation in rural areas.

“YFC at Home proved to be a lifeline for many throughout lockdown restrictions and it is encouraging to see rural young people reconnecting with their local clubs in person and being back in the heart of their communities.”

The national organisation, which has 581 YFCs across England and Wales, 45 of which are in Yorkshire, said the increase in membership numbers this year “positively” demonstrates the continued importance of YFCs to rural communities.

To mark its 90 years, special messages were released during this week’s National Young Farmers’ Week including one from NFYFC Patron, HM The Queen.

In her letter, The Queen wrote: “As your patron, I was pleased to learn that clubs have begun meeting again, following a very challenging period throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I send my best wishes to you all for a most memorable and enjoyable year marking this notable milestone.”

Successful former YFC members also shared their stories about the impact it made on their lives including Ellen Helliwell, the 28-year-old former Hope Valley and Penrith YFC member is

currently working as a shepherdess on Clarkson’s Farm and reveals how the friends she made in YFC are still a huge part of her life. Defra Minister Rebecca Pow said her successful

career championing conservation and the environment through journalism and politics was fuelled by skills learnt in two Somerset YFCs, Bath and Taunton.

Mr Owens said he was “excited” about the future for Young Farmers’ Clubs.

“YFCs have spent 90 years excelling at bringing rural people together, building confidence and developing skills, while celebrating life in the countryside. I am excited for the future of this

amazing organisation and its next 90 years – and it’s been so good to shout about its success during National Young Farmers’ Week.”

Rachel Goldie, NFYFC chair of council 2021-22, said it was important to ensure the organisation continued.

“It’s great to see so many rural young people re-discovering YFC and choosing to shape a more positive future for themselves through the many opportunities being a YFC member offers.

“We must ensure NFYFC is around for many more decades to come and that means not only protecting the organisation but also our planet. YFCs play a key role in their rural communities and together we can make a big impact on our local environment.”