Meet the Yorkshire brothers keeping Young Farmers going for the next generation of members

When brothers Stu and Tom Brown appeared on stage last month it would be fair to say they were not about to win any prizes for best looking pair, unlike trying to win with cattle at livestock shows. They caused hilarity at Sledmere Village Hall as The Ugly Sisters in the East Riding Federation of Young Farmers Clubs’ pantomime Cinderella and The Fairfax Boots.

Stu is the East Riding County Junior Chairman having come up through the ranks of his home club Beacon YFC and is as passionate about the Young Farmers movement as he is about his family’s cattle breeding and showing of pedigree Limousins and Charolais.

“I started going to Beacon YFC when I was 11 years old. Tom was going, he’s a bit older than me, and I thought it looked fun. I’m now so involved that I have weeks where it seems there’s something on almost every night.

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“I’m obsessed with it, love Young Farmers, and have worked my way up with Beacon from junior secretary, club secretary, club chairman for two years, rally chairman last year for the county rally and organised the Northern Area weekend last year that was held in East Riding. I’m now on the Northern Area committee.

Brothers Stu and Tom Brown with Charolais bulls  Ellerton Upandunder and  Ellerton Ukulele on the family's farm at Everingham near Market WeightonBrothers Stu and Tom Brown with Charolais bulls  Ellerton Upandunder and  Ellerton Ukulele on the family's farm at Everingham near Market Weighton
Brothers Stu and Tom Brown with Charolais bulls  Ellerton Upandunder and Ellerton Ukulele on the family's farm at Everingham near Market Weighton

“I’ve had a lot out of it as a member. I’m 22 now, still well within the age limit, but it’s now time to give back a bit. I love being on the county teams and going to help.

East Riding County has seen a similar increase in young membership to its neighbours the Yorkshire Federation and Stu sees it as extremely positive for the future of the Young Farmers movement but also a challenge that he and the rest of the county’s committee including new county organiser Ellie Jackson are embracing by getting their act together.

“It’s a great thing. Membership has risen over the last three years since we came out of Covid restrictions. The increase in numbers plus new people at the helm has given us all a fresh boost. It feels like there’s a bit more oomph come back into it.

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“Over half of East Riding County’s membership is currently under 16, which sounds great, but what is now important is that we all support our clubs by making sure those who are leading the clubs have greater knowledge, and that we encourage those who can help their clubs.

Brothers Stu and Tom Brown on the family's farm at Everingham near Market WeightonBrothers Stu and Tom Brown on the family's farm at Everingham near Market Weighton
Brothers Stu and Tom Brown on the family's farm at Everingham near Market Weighton

“Younger membership is the future, but sometimes there can be a lack of understanding of what young farmers is and I think some can see it as a little bit like a babysitting service and maybe they don’t know that it is the members who are actually running it and a lot of clubs are now run by intermediates who through no fault of their own haven’t got that knowledge to suddenly step up.

“That’s why as a county we’re trying to help clubs, without being patronising, or making them feel like they’re at school. We’ve introduced a county roadshow to go around all the clubs. We’ve put together a fun night trying to educate on different points that capture the essence of Young Farmers. Hopefully people will go away having had a good night and having learned something that will help.

“Young Farmers Clubs are not run by a load of people telling you what to do. It’s not like being at school. It’s about everybody having fun and growing together individually and as a club. So many lifelong friendships have been made over decades. We’re just trying to give a bit of guidance on things that are the roots of Young Farmers as well as making everything relevant today.

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Stu says last month’s county pantomime proved a real winner in many ways.

“There is a Northern Area Pantomime competition, something that East Riding never entered so far as I know, and we thought we’d do one as a bit of a fund raiser and potentially enter the competition next year because we hosted the Northern Area weekend last year, saw what others did and thought it was quite impressive.

“It went from this little thing to us all getting right into it. We hadn’t realised how much we’d actually get out of it as a cast, or how well received it would be from county. It brought everyone together, the cast from all clubs and all ages. Every club came to watch and we were sold out all four nights. Big thanks must go to Jamie Wade our County Chairman who wrote the panto. Jamie retired from his role as chair just last week. Luke Brignall is now our new County Chair.

Stu loves being involved with the YFC movement and loves farming, but like many chose a different career, first becoming a chef and then finding front of house work another real passion.

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“We only have a small acreage where we farm in Everingham and we live nearby at Foggathorpe. We love our cattle breeding – myself, Tom, and mum Viki and dad Andrew, but we all have our other incomes.

“I’m at The Oaks Golf Club and Spa at Aughton where I’m FOH and Bar & Events Manager. I studied to be a chef and FOH at Selby College. I handle all of the ordering, the rotas, and suppliers. Tom’s a butcher with Laverack’s in Pocklington. We’ve talked about the possibility of running a farm shop or some related business sometime in the future.

Farming, living in the countryside and breeding quality pedigree cattle are the links that brought the brothers to Young Farmers clubs in the first place.

“Dad’s originally from a family farm that was in Bedale and then moved down to Ellerton. We have a suckler herd and about 30 head of stock overall including calves and bulls. Dad’s

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had Charolais since he was 15, so some of those bloodlines go back 40-plus years. Limousins have been a new addition over the last ten years, since we’ve had Everingham.

“We are looking to produce quality pedigree bulls to work in either pedigree or commercial herds.

“We sit around the kitchen table discussing which bull’s semen to match with which cow. It’s all AI. We do it all ourselves, we don’t run a stock bull. We try to sell the bulls we produce at the society sales.

“The Limmies go to Carlisle, Stirling and Melton Mowbray. Where they go depends on what we think will go well at respective markets. We sometimes support the local York Multibreed Sale. It’s about knowing where that bull will fit. If you have a nice bull that may get a bit lost at Carlisle, you go for something like Melton Mowbray, like we have next week on April 14.

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“The main Charolais sales tend to be at Carlisle and Stirling, with Stirling being the premium sale. We also show in summer at the Great Yorkshire Show and Driffield Show.

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