Passport to fun both at home and away

Young Farmers clubs have plenty to offer for all young people from ten to 26. Charlotte Richardson reports from the East Riding.
YFC committee members.YFC committee members.
YFC committee members.

Overseas travel, greasy pole competitions and foam parties might not be the first thing people associate with the Young Farmers movement or YFC but it is an organisation prepared to move with the times and despite competing with computer games and other clubs, its membership numbers are on the increase.

“It really is an organisation with something to offer everyone” says East Riding Federation President John Whitehead. “It’s a cliché but it’s true that you don’t have to be a farmer or even have anything to do with agriculture to be a Young Farmer. I would recommend it to anyone aged ten to 26.”

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Clubs meet once a week from October to July where they either have an “in” meeting, hearing from a speaker or doing cooking or a quiz, or an “out” meeting, going bowling, visiting a local place of interest or to the pictures.

James Kennedy, East Riding YFC County Chairman, said: “It can be difficult to pitch meetings as members range from ten to 26, but actually the fact that our clubs are all run by the members, for the members, means we can plan the kind of meeting we want.”

In the East Riding there are 15 YFC clubs, ranging from Muston in the north to South Axholme and Patrington in the south and going as far west as Goole.

Clubs can have anything from 15 to 45 members and usually meet in village halls or community buildings.

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John said: “We are seeing an increase which is very promising. We are a welcoming, friendly group offering young people in the countryside the chance to socialise without their parents.”

Competitions run throughout the year, from inter-club quizzes and traditional stock-judging to public speaking.

There is also a large sports programe, running on rotation nationally with a couple of sports selected each year. Sports played include football, netball and hockey as well as dodgeball, darts and rounders.

The YFC year culminates in the Rally, which takes place in late May or early June each year and sees all the 15 clubs in the East Riding compete in more than 80 competitions for a range of trophies.

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For the traditionalist, there are still regular stock-judging competitions, where competitors are asked to examine stock, place them in an order and give reasons, along with cookery, tractor driving and floristry but they now sit alongside marshmallow eating, talent competitions and creative writing.

John said: “I’ve seen the shyest of people come along to meetings and soon they’re joining in and gaining in confidence all the time.”

Those that do well in local competitions, can go on to compete at Northern Area, Regional and even National finals.

Traditionally seen as a marriage bureau for the farming community, the organistaion still runs its fair share of social events for members to enjoy.

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James said: “There are regular ‘dos’ as well as balls and dinner dances.”

YFC members also have the opportunity to travel abroad, via a national programme.

Simon Walgate, 19, a member of Bainton YFC has recently returned from a four month working trip in New Zealand, he said: “It was an amazing opportunity, I learnt a great deal and made many friends.”

James added: “Now is the time to sign up. Why not come along and give it a go?”