National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 September 2021

A young farmer from Lancashire has been recognised for stepping up to ensure Young Farmers’ Clubs in the county received the support they needed to continue operating during the pandemic.

Mick Handley, 27, from Slaidburn, farms sheep and Belted Galloway cattle on a tenanted United Utilities hill farm in partnership with his parents, and won The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Club’s (NFYFC) Aspiring Rural Leader Award as part of the organisation’s annual YFC Achiever Awards.

Mick was announced as the winner during an online show on Thursday 16 September, which was introduced by NFYFC President and former international rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE.

Mick received the award after impressing the judges with the work he has put into supporting his County Federation over a challenging 12 months. Mick is Lancashire’s County Chair but when the county found itself without a county organiser during the pandemic, Mick picked up the extra responsibilities, alongside a full-time role on his farm, to ensure the county remained open.

Described as a ‘lifeline,’ Mick’s dedication ensured hundreds of rural young people throughout the county were still able to engage with YFC during an isolating period.

Mick said:

“I'm very honoured to receive this award following an unusual year as County Chairman. Young Farmers has played a big part in my life over the past 16 years and starting out I never imagined being a club chairman let alone county chairman! However, the variety of activities and competitions you take part in within YFC has helped to greatly improve my public speaking skills and confidence to hold officer roles.

“Everyone's help and support over the past 12 months is very much appreciated and well done to all the finalists. It's an excellent organisation which I have gained so much from and it feels great to have been able to give something back.”

The judges, who included young farmer columnist for Farmers weekly Charlie Beaty, NFYFC’s Personal Development Steering Group Chair Polly Baines and NFYFC’s former Chair of Council Dewi Parry, shortlisted five young farmers for the award but chose Mick as their overall winner.

Dewi Parry said: “It has been a challenging time in office for Mick Handley since he was elected as County Chair but he’s done nothing but go above and beyond. He helped every club in his county by taking on the running of the county without a member of staff.

“It has been an unusual time for the Lancashire Federation and they owe the success of this last year to Mick. His nomination really impressed all of the judges and he has shown really impressive leadership skills at a time when his county needed him the most. The YFC Achiever Awards are a great example of what can be achieved through YFC and the skills that are developed through the organisation.”

Samantha Gates, club chair of Brockenhurst YFC in Hampshire was revealed as the runner up for the award because of the support she had shown her club and for helping to more than double its membership numbers.

The Aspiring Rural Leader Award is one of eight award categories and all the winners were revealed during the YFC Achiever Awards announcement shows that ran each night from 13-17 September 2021. 

All the awards videos from the week can be seen here.

The awards are a celebration of achievements from the previous membership year and mark a positive start to the new YFC membership year. Clubs are now meeting again following the pandemic and more information about joining a local YFC can be found here. 

See more information about all five finalists of the Aspiring Rural Leader Award here. 


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