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. 

23 September 2021

A young farmer from Lancashire has been given a national award for keeping her Young Farmers’ Club (YFC) and County Federation operating during the pandemic.

Hazel Stansfield, 24, from Chaigley in Lancashire, received the most votes for The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ (NFYFC) Heart of YFC Award, sponsored by Eternit. The award is part of NFYFC’s annual YFC Achiever Awards, which recognises the achievements of members during the previous membership year. 

Hazel found out the news of her win during the online awards show on Friday 17 September, where NFYFC President and former international rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE announced the winner.

The award was followed by even more celebrations for Hazel as she went into labour the next day and gave birth to her daughter Poppy – making it a weekend to remember.

Hazel from Clitheroe YFC, who is a commercial insurance sales advisor for NFU Mutual in Clitheroe, received the award due to all the work she has put into the Federation, especially during the past year.

Alongside providing online activities for Clitheroe YFC during the pandemic, Hazel also took on more responsibilities at a County Federation level while it was without a County Organiser during the pandemic. Despite the challenges, Hazel managed to increase the membership to the club and encouraged members to get involved in competing at a local and national level.

Hazel was chosen alongside four other candidates to be shortlisted for the award, and the YFC community cast more than 1600 votes to choose their overall winner.

Hazel said:

“I’m honestly humbled to have won the title of Heart of YFC and honestly overwhelmed. YFC has been a massive part of my life and an incredible organisation to be involved in. YFC is more than just attending meetings each week, it’s the lifelong friends, the opportunities it has to offer and the memories of a lifetime to name a few. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Young Farmers and the confidence it has given me.

“The fantastic thing about Young Farmers is that anyone can make a difference from a club level to nationally. It’s a membership-led organisation – by members for the members – and is why I would recommend anyone aged 10-28 to get in contact with their local club.”

The finalists for the Heart of YFC Award were chosen by NFYFC President Nigel Owens, Chair of the Board of Management Delme Harries and Chair of the Membership and Marketing Group Sarah Emmott.

Throughout August, the YFC community was invited to vote on who they thought represented the organisation’s values the most and was truly at the heart of the organisation.  More than 1600 people voted on the finalists and Hazel received the most votes.

The award was sponsored by Eternit UK and Jayne Arkell, the UK Country Manager for Etex Exteriors (the corporate company for Eternit) said:

“Here at Eternit, we passionately support the NFYFC and all they stand for.

"This year we were delighted to be part of the YFC Achiever Awards and support the amazing work they do within rural communities within the UK. We would like to congratulate all of the winners and the nominees; and a special congratulations to Hazel Stansfield from Lancashire for winning the Heart of YFC Award 2021.”

The Heart of YFC 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 Heart of YFC Award here. 


23 September 2021

As one of the biggest industry changes to any sector in the UK is rolled out, young farmers will have the opportunity to discuss the impact on the next generation of farmers at an online event during National Young Farmers’ Week (25-29 October) and just a few days before COP26.

The online debate called Ready for Change? is hosted by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and supported by Defra and NatWest. It will be hosted on 27 October at 7.00pm and involves leading industry experts who will be able to answer key questions from young farmers on the future of agriculture. The panel includes Janet Hughes, the director of Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme; Andrew Meredith, Farmers Weekly editor; Roddy McLean, NatWest’s director of agriculture; and young farmer and business consultant Sammy Allen.

The debate, which is NFYFC’s annual AGRI Forum, will be chaired by agronomist, Somerset young farmer and YFC AGRI Chair Tom Pope, and is open to all to join over Zoom.

Key topics under discussion will be:

Views from the next generation about their future and the challenges and opportunities in farming and land management

Discussion about Defra’s plans for a New Entrants Scheme and future support

Next generation and YFC resilience and wellbeing

Next generation views on climate change and the part they can play in helping to reach net zero whilst maintaining healthy businesses.

The event will also be an opportunity for YFC AGRI to highlight the diverse work of consultation responses, events, research, online discussion and co-design that the group has been working on throughout the year.

YFC AGRI Chair Tom Pope said:

“As next generation farmers, land managers, rural dwellers or a future workforce in the making, we will play one of the biggest parts in sustainability, so this debate is vital for seeking answers and sharing views on the changes ahead.

“YFC AGRI has tackled many topics over the past year including isolation, heathier minds and attitudes, climate change and future business skills.  The big question now is how are we all coping with change?

“We have to collaborate as an industry to make sure that we can achieve but also survive, so I’m delighted that all our forum guests accepted the invitation to talk, share views but also answer questions that many of you will be keen to ask.”

During the recent changes, NFYFC has represented YFC members’ views to Defra through its YFC AGRI group by providing consultation responses, research findings and recorded conversations with the membership. NFYFC is now eager to see if the emerging schemes will achieve the ambitions for food production, the environment and rural sustainability.

NatWest’s director of agriculture, Roddy McLean said:

“NatWest is delighted to support NFYFC ‘s National Young Farmers’ Week again this year and I’m pleased to take this opportunity to debate the effect of change and the opportunities this could  bring with young farmers and my fellow panelists.  We are all so much more aware of the importance of wellbeing across the sector, and the measures that need to be taken to counteract the stress of seismic policy changes.

“Tackling climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time and is central to NatWest Group’s strategy. We have taken great strides as a bank already – our own operations are net zero and we have done a lot to de-risk our balance sheet – but there is more to do, whether through green finance and innovation, the shift to zero emission vehicles, or helping our customers make their buildings and operations greener. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the NFYFC to help the agricultural sector with the transition.”

YFC members and next generation farmers can register for their place at the AGRI Forum using the following link and all are welcome to join this free event on 27 October 2021, which is during NFYFC’s National Young Farmers’ Week. 

Biographies of the panellists

Janet Hughes

Janet is Programme Director for Defra’s Future Farming and Countryside Programme – the team that’s responsible for transforming the way we support and regulate farming and the countryside in England. Over the next seven years, the programme will be closing down existing schemes and rules and replacing them with Environmental Land Management, grant support, innovation, R&D support and a new approach to regulation and enforcement. Janet’s job is to make sure the programme delivers all this successfully and in a way that works for farmers and achieves the intended outcomes.

Andrew Meredith

Andrew has been Farmers Weekly editor since January 2021 after first doing stints on the business and arable desks. Before joining the team, he studied agriculture at Aberystwyth University and then worked on his family’s upland beef and sheep farm in mid Wales as well as at Welshpool Livestock Market as a drover.  

Roddy McLean BSc(Agr) Hons, FRAgS

Roddy is the director of agriculture at NatWest and is responsible for ensuring the bank’s policy towards agriculture continues to be fit for purpose, supporting the Bank’s 125 relationship managers, keeping them informed on current farming issues and providing advice on more complex agricultural lending propositions. As well as representing the Bank on public platforms. 

Tom Pope

Tom is a Reading University agriculture graduate and an agronomist by profession. The current NFYFC Agriculture and Rural Issues (AGRI) chairman, he is also a former Somerset FYFC county chairman and plays an active part in his family’s Somerset arable farm.

Tom has been inspired by his fellow Somerset YFC members. He has made the most his YFC office holder experience and industry opportunities for personal and professional development whilst helping support the next generation of young farmers.

Sammy Allen

Sammy graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in agriculture and is currently a trainee farm business consultant as well as playing an active part in her family’s mixed Nottinghamshire farm comprising pigs, sheep and arable enterprises.

She is the current NFYFC AGRI vice chairwoman and aspires to help farming businesses become more robust and sustainable for the future.

21 September 2021

An enterprising young farmer from Hertfordshire who transformed a disused barn into a thriving business has been awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year Award, supported by NatWest, at the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs YFC Achiever Awards 2021.

Victoria Smith, from St Albans YFC, was revealed as the winner at an online awards ceremony on Wednesday 15 September 2021. Luke Watts from Pembrokeshire was announced as the runner up for a green glamping site he launched last year called Moithan Meadows.

Victoria launched her business during lockdown last year after converting a disused barn on her fiance’s farm and turning it into a location to sell takeaway hot drinks, homemade cakes and other local produce. Victoria used funding and support that she successfully gained from the Henry Plumb Foundation and spent weekends and evenings making her idea a reality – all while working in a full-time job.

The business started with a takeaway option, but Victoria has now grown it to offer undercover and outdoor seating and the product range has expanded to include local ice creams, oils and honey. 

As well as employing local people, Victoria plans to expand the business with longer opening hours, sales of her fiancé’s home-reared meat and selling locally produced gifts for Christmas.

Victoria said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to win this award, something that I couldn’t have imagined possible this time last year, when my idea really was just an idea.

“West End Barns is proof that if you are determined enough and are prepared to work hard, anything is possible, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the business.”

Victoria’s approach to business planning, research and funding impressed all four judges, which included Zoe Colville, aka The Chief Shepherdess on social media and owner of the Little Farm Fridge, Alexia Robinson, director of Love British Food, Roddy McLean, director of agriculture at NatWest and Tom Pope, NFYFC’s YFC AGRI Chair.

Roddy McLean, director of agriculture, NatWest, said: 

“NatWest is very proud to support the Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2021 and to have helped choose the overall winner. 

“All five of the finalists achieved impressive results during the uncertainty of the pandemic but Victoria Smith’s business really stood out. Victoria had a vision and executed it in the right way – she did research, sought funding and has plans for growth. She already has a profitable business and I am excited to see where Victoria takes West End Barns next. 

“It was encouraging to see so many of the entries for this award were considering the environmental impact of their businesses too. Runner up Luke Watts’ glamping site Moithan Meadow is a great example, not only has he created a new income stream, he has added nature value to the land by planting trees and creating a pond, both of which will deliver greater biodiversity.”

The YFC Achiever Awards announcement shows ran from 13-17 September 2021 and each evening was introduced by NFYFC President and former international rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE.

All the awards videos 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 Entrepreneur of the Year Award here.


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