08 October 2012
I was recently invited along to Number 10 to join a 'Farming Lunch' with the Prime Minister and other prominent figures within the industry. It turned out to be a great opportunity for me as a representative of NFYFC to discuss with the Prime Minister, and others that can make a difference, some of the issues that are really important to our movement.
I raised concerns regarding a lack of support for young farmers in areas from affordable housing to the problems of ‘red tape’ for new businesses. We also discussed the need for better connections, such as improved technical communication in the form of broadband and mobile phone reception. Talking to Owen Paterson, the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, he seemed responsive to a wide range of views and suggestions which makes me hopeful for good communications in the future.
Once again we've had a challenging year in all aspects of farming, Despite everything I'm constantly impressed with the resilience and attitude of our members, your positivity is vital for the industry and getting through these difficult times.
It was great to visit Warwickshire Young Farmers this year and show our Countryfile audience a little more about what you do. I was over the moon that our film crew were so enthusiastic about the suggestion to film some of you and even more thrilled by the response the programme received. Thank you to everyone who made us so welcome.
The London 2012 Games were a massive success for this country and Young Farmers really made the most of the Olympic spirit with all the adventures and activities you got up to. I was proud that we got to showcase British produce in such a prominent way thanks to your efforts.
Thank you to the national office, the county staff and all of the members who make the NFYFC such a magnificent organisation. I am proud to be your President.
I'm looking forward to celebrating our 80th year officially in December, although I don't think it was quite what my wife had in mind when I said I was taking her out for her birthday!
01 October 2012
There were winners galore at this weekend’s Malvern Autumn Show, with the national finals of the NFYFC Tug of War, Cookery and Floral Arts competitions.
Saturday morning kicked off with the much anticipated Men’s Tug of War competition, which saw eight teams from across the country competing for the coveted trophy. The atmosphere was electric as supporters lined the main arena at the Three Counties Showground.
Throughout the morning, ten teams were whittled down to four for a tense semi-final. In the end it was the Yorkshire YFC team of David Wade, Jack Davey, Edi Herd, Ian Close, Lewis Whitham, Jim Mason, Matty Close and Thomas Walker who took the title, beating Staffordshire YFC in the finals. Runners-up were Somerset YFC in third and Pembrokeshire YFC in fourth.
Meanwhile, things were hotting up in the NFYFC kitchen. Situated in the Severn Hall, the crowds of show-goers looked on as 30 teams of three were given one hour to cook four dishes along the theme of the Olympics. Dishes were then judged by Nick Bryan, Ben Axford and Andrea Halford on taste, choice of menu, cookery skills and appearance. And it was the team from Radnor YFC, Lucy Stonebridge, Laura Powell and Shaun Fairclough, who came away with first prize, wowing the judges with their imaginative presentation and perfectly cooked food. Lancashire YFC also impressed, taking second place, with Herefordshire YFC in third.
Back in the arena, the Ladies’ Tug of War was just as exciting as the men’s competition with ten teams taking part. It became a battle of nations in the semi-finals, with Derbyshire and Cumbria representing England versus the Welsh counties of Pembrokeshire and Montgomeryshire. However the home side came out on top, with the Derbyshire YFC team of Nat Hooper, Charlotte Atkinson, Anne Wildgoose, Vicki Sheldon, Helen Wildgoose, Holly Thomas, Lizzy Mason, Dawn Wainwright and Helen Battye taking the trophy. They were closely followed by Montgomeryshire, with Cumbria in third and Pembrokshire in fourth.
Sunday heralded another busy day of competing with one of YFCs defining competitions; Floral Arts. Requiring painstaking precision and skill, as well as long hours of practice, this is always a hotly fought competition and the ultimate accolade for the winner. Senior competitors were asked to compose an exhibit depicting ‘A Moment from History’ whilst intermediate competitors were given the title of ‘Great Britain’ and juniors were asked to produce a basket to present to an Olympian.
As always the standard was incredibly high as competitors impressed the judges with intricate and innovative designs. But in the senior competition it was Oonagh O’Neill from Bedfordshire YFC who really stood out with her beautiful red and orange display depicting the moment the young soviet athlete Olga Korbut stunned crowds at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Oonagh’s display just pipped Lancashire YFC’s Victoria Seed to the post and she was followed in third by Herefordshire’s Owen Probert.
In the intermediate section it was Northumberland YFC’s Gemma Common who took the title, with a cleverly assembled display including gorgeous red roses and Great British produce. She was followed by Lucy Bright from Shropshire YFC in second and Fay Thomas from Herefordshire YFC in third.
In the junior section, Eleanor White from Leicestershire YFC impressed with her pretty and patriotic flower basket winning her first prize. Bethanie Jones-Davies from Brecknock took second prize, whilst Robyn Bowker from Cumbria YFC took the third spot.
Congratulations to all the competitors at this weekend’s finals and a huge thank you to the judges and stewards who gave their time to make the weekend a great success!
Check out the pictures from the weekend on our Facebook page!
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