A record number of young farmers attended The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ (NFYFC) Annual Convention 2014 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool over the weekend.
It is estimated that more than 5,500 people got involved in a programme of activities with the largest rural youth organisation in the UK, including an Agricultural Forum focused on technology, the Annual General Meeting, national competition finals and evening entertainments.
Wristband sales prior to the event, which was sponsored by Massey Ferguson, were already higher than last year and combined with on the door ticket sales the Convention was one of the most popular in recent years.
Members re-elected Poul Christensen CBE as the NFYFC’s President for a second year during the AGM and elected seven Deputy Presidents to represent each Area of the Federation.
There were also two Life Vice President elections for Willie Bendle, nominated by Cumbria and for Mary Bailey, nominated by Clitheroe YFC, Lancashire for their life-long services to the Federation. There was also a life membership election for Jan Davinson from Cumbria.
Counties were also recognised for their commitment to fundraising. It is estimated that the Federation raised £2.3m for good causes in 2013 and the Devon Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) was awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy (FYFC) for raising the most money per member during the year.
Devon clubs raised £100,259.97– equating to £73.83 per member and the County also included the Club that raised the most per member during the year. Ivybridge YFC picked up the Lionel J Hill Trophy for raising £18,000 (£409.09 per member) after hosting a barn
dance to raise money for St Ives Hospice, JDFR - Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation - and Clic Sargent.
Many clubs also fundraised on their way to the Annual Convention, with members involved in challenging cycle rides to make it to Blackpool. Essex FYFC also released a charity single called Put that Hoedown to raise money for YoungMinds and The Farming Community Network and made it to number 60 in the UK singles chart by the Sunday of Annual Convention – the fifth highest new entry.
The national competition finals attracted large crowds to the Winter Gardens and Wales celebrated victories in the Entertainments and Choir competitions. Llanbadarn Fynydd YFC came top in Entertainments and won a hat trick of awards for their performance of Just Chilled with awards for best performance, best actor and best actress. Glamorgan FYFC’s choir beat seven other clubs with their performance of Hallelujah and a Welsh folk song Cyfri'r Geifr (Counting the Goats).
In Disco Dancing though, it was Wigton YFC from Cumbria who were hailed the champs of the dancefloor – the first time the club had ever made it to a national final.
The Senior Member of the Year was awarded to Jessica Wright from Lugg Valley YFC in Herefordshire for inspiring others to achieve.
Members were treated to evening entertainment from five Radio 1 DJs over the weekend and three live bands. Jameela Jamil from Radio 1 got the party started on Friday night, followed by Edith Bowman and Aled Haydn Jones on Saturday and Scott Mills and Chris Stark on Sunday.
As well as the entertainment, the weekend also included NFYFC’s Agri Forum 2014 where leading industry speakers shared their advice on topics associated with technology and farming. David Gardner, Chief Executive of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, Professor Toby Mottram Founder of eCow and Campbell Scott from Massey Ferguson each gave a presentation and hosted workshops.
During the AGM, members also agreed to increase the membership and associate membership subscription by 20% for the first time in three years to ensure NFYFC could continue to offer the same level of services. Rachel Goldie, from Great Smeaton YFC, gave a supportive speech for the increase in the levy and won The Sidney Fawcett Trophy for her contribution to the meeting.
NFYFC's National Chairman of Council Claire Worden said: “The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs had an amazing weekend in Blackpool for our Annual Convention. It was a weekend that truly celebrated our values of fun, learning and achievement.
“For many young farmers this will be one of the few holidays they will take during the year and it is one of the only occasions when all our clubs and counties are united in one location. Young farmers give a lot back to their local communities in fundraising support and it was inspiring to see so many of them rewarded this weekend.”