National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 June 2019

A chance to experience rural life in Northern Ireland was the perfect escape for 23-year-old Hannah Mason from Herefordshire in May this year after she successfully applied for the trip through the YFC Travel programme. Hannah reveals why every YFC member should take advantage of the YFC Travel programme and what she discovered on her journey. 

Why did you choose to apply for Northern Ireland?

I thought it would be a good one to go for as it was my first time travelling with YFC as it’s not too far away. I live on a small beef and sheep farm in Herefordshire and I was interested in comparing how the farms operate in Northern Ireland.

Where did you stay?

I travelled with Emma Topham from Derbyshire FYFC and we stayed with two families. The first family was a young couple in County Down who were actively involved in the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) – Northern Ireland’s equivalent of NFYFC. The second week we stayed on a small dairy farm in County Armagh with a family who also had a tea room. People would come from miles around to drink tea and eat cake in their converted conservatory! It was a real community hub and one of the reasons why the owner had wanted to open it.

We also spent the second week with other exchangees from around the world.

What activities did you get involved in?

We did around eight farm tours, visited museums and landmarks and spent two days at the Balmoral Show, which was amazing. We went to a few pubs and parties and helped set up our host club's barbecue (what we would call a barn dance). We visited the Giant’s Causeway, a cider apple orchard and bottling plant and saw a vegetable packing process as well as ate lots of lovely food.

We also watched the farmers making silage – it was fascinating to see large groups of people pulling up in cars to sit and watch the contractors at work. We occasionally get a small child popping their head over the fence to watch us at home but nothing like this! There’s a genuine appreciation of the work, which was satisfying to see.

What was their version of YFC like?

Their clubs were full of young farmers who were actively involved in farming. In Teme Valley there aren’t that many members who actually farm. They also had large numbers at their events. One club's barbecue attracts 1300 people! They’re huge events in Northern Ireland and massive fundraisers too that help the club keep going.

Their membership age is up to 30, which I really liked – especially for someone like me who only joined YFC when I was 19.

What did you enjoy about your experience?

Doing a YFC Travel trip is completely different to going travelling on your own. You get to see inside the people’s lives and experience their world for a while. When we were watching the silaging, I was chatting to the contractors whilst sat in their vehicles and these are things I doubt I would have done had I gone to Northern Ireland on holiday.

I also met other exchangees from America, Canada, Germany and Scotland who are all part of my Snapchat group now.

Would you recommend YFC Travel?

Absolutely. I would definitely apply for another trip now and will probably try going further afield next time. It’s a relatively easy application process and a brilliant way to meet new people and gain new skills. I’m someone who likes to have a go at everything and I am so glad I did this.

A huge thank you to The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust for supporting YFC Travel. New YFC Travel opportunities for 2020 will be advertised in September 2019. 


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