National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

20 May 2017

Three YFC members have made it into the final of the Countryfile Young Farmer of the Year award.

Tom Phillips from Crucorney YFC in Gwent, Tom Addison from Newport Pagnell YFC in Buckinghamshire and Vicky Furlong from Shaftoe YFC in Northumberland were all shortlisted from hundreds of entries to the competition, which is searching for an ‘outstanding’ individual.

The BBC programme asked viewers to nominate young farmers they thought deserved special recognition and they are now highlighting the chosen three finalists on the programme. The popular Sunday night show explained they are looking for someone who demonstrates the best of what young people do for British farming.

Tom Addison

This Sunday 21 May, Tom Addison, 23, will be featured talking about how he set up his agri business from scratch, despite not being born into a farming family. His mum is a veterinary nurse and his dad works in Formula 1 but Tom’s passion for farming was ignited after helping out a local beef and arable farmer when he was at school.

That very same farmer nominated him for this award and Tom is thrilled to be in the final three. “I was really surprised to find out,” said Tom who had to go through an interview with the programme before being informed he was in the final.

Tom owns 170 sheep, which are spread over a number of areas in a 12 mile radius and works across 20 different farms supporting them with milking and shepherding.

“I own the flock but rent the land to keep them there,” said Tom who wants to work towards getting a tenancy of his own but knows that dream is not an easy one. “Tenant farms around here are horrifically priced. I make most of my money through my contracting work. I still see a future in farming – if I work at it, it will be alright.

It was at agricultural college where Tom met members of Newport Pagnell YFC and decided to join. After college he went to Australia for a few months to work on a farm over there, which helped build up his knowledge before he came home and set up his own business.

“I was working on a sheep farm in Somerset when I got back and my boss gave me a bonus of some pet lambs so I started working with them. Sheep are the easiest and cheapest way to get into the industry. The investment is low in terms of start up.”

Tom has just started rearing calves and has set up his own Facebook page to promote the sale of his lamb.  Looking to the future, Tom, who is currently Vice Chairman of Newport Pagnell YFC, is hoping to “keep expanding and to be self efficient.” Hopefully the promotion on Countryfile will give his business a boost too!

Tom Phillips

Also in the running is Tom Phillips, 16, who impressed the judges with his dedication to the family farm, his Tug of War abilities and the fact his farming knowledge helped saved his dad’s life. He was featured on the show on Sunday 13 May where he and members of his YFC showed Adam Henson how to compete at Tug of War.

Tom works on a mixed farm with arable, cattle, pigs and easy care sheep that shed their own wool. He looks after the livestock and also takes pride in showing his rare breed saddleback pigs.

“When I was nine my dad bought me two saddlebacks and I had a real big interest in them from there,” explained Tom on the programme. “The first ever show we did was a Show and Sale at Ross market and we won Champion there, which was just amazing.” Tom went on to win Young Handler of the Year at the Royal Welsh Show and was chosen by the Pig Association to go to America to show over there. “It was an incredible experience,” said Tom. 

Tom enjoys all aspects of farm life and took an interest in it from an early age. His interest in machinery paid off when his dad was attacked by a bull. Tom, who was only 10 at the time, was in the field with his dad after a cow had just had a baby calf. When the calf called out, the bull ran at his dad, throwing him into the air and then trampling on him.

Tom said the bull was “hitting him with his horns and throwing him about like he was nothing. It was horrifying.”
A terrified Tom jumped into the tractor, pushed the bull and then lowered the loading door over the top of his father’s body to protect it while he fetched help. His quick thinking saved his dad’s life.

Tom was praised on the programme for achieving so much already in farming. 

Vicky Furlong

As the only girl in the final, Vicky Furlong, 24, is hoping she can win the judges over with the impressive estate she manages in Northumberland. Vicky’s boss on the Crowhall Estate nominated her for the competition as she manages their 120 cattle and 700 sheep – with one other helper!

After growing up on her family farm and helping to look after the sheep and cattle there, Vicky was eager to stay working in the industry but her brother had taken on the running of the family’s own 500 sheep and 80 cattle.

After working as a part time game keeper at Crowhall while she was studying, Vicky asked if the owners if they would take her on as manager. "They had known me all my life and they wanted to give me the opportunity and bring a young person into the industry," explained Vicky who sadly had to sell her own flock of 300 sheep that she'd nutured as she didn't have the time for them as well as her new role.  

"People who don’t know me are surprised at how much I am responsible for at such a young age,” said Vicky, who also lives on the Estate in a three-bed bungalow with her dog. “I am proud of myself. As a young farmer, there are limited opportunities to get into the industry so this is a dream come true!”

Those who do know Vicky are not surprised by her achievement or dedication. She currently holds the ATV trophy for the County and aims to retain it at the Northumberland FYFC Rally on 3 June. She was also named Shaftoe YFC’s Senior Member of the Year in 2016.

“It’s difficult to get out much as I work 10-12 hour days,” said Vicky who had to face lambing practically alone this year as her worker dropped out just before the season started. She managed to source contracted help and called on her family who live two miles away but the late nights and early mornings were mostly down to the 24-year-old. “I do try to get to YFC meetings when I can though as it gets me off the farm for a bit,” she added.

Vicky takes part in filming with Countryfile next week and is looking forward to the experience.

 The winner of the competition will be announced at the BBC Food and Farming Awards later in the year.


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