National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 June 2019

If you’re looking for competitive spirit then 21-year-old Victoria Sercombe has bags of it – especially when the challenge involves sheep! As a finalist in this year’s Situations Vacant competition on 6 July, Victoria says she owes YFC a lot for her public speaking skills and for nurturing her passion for stockjudging.

When did you join YFC?

When I was 12 years old. I grew up on a sheep farm and my parents were involved in Young Farmers and I really wanted to get involved in the stockjudging competitions. I joined Melton Mowbray as that’s where my parents were involved but when the club lost a lot of members and hit hard times a few years ago, I moved to Rearsby YFC for a couple of years as I wanted to be competitive.

Three years ago Melton Mowbray put a girls’ Tug of War team together and made it to third place in the nationals. It was enough of a kick start to make us want to get the club going again so I went back to help. This year all our public speaking teams have made it through to the Area round, which is quite an achievement. 

Three words to describe your club?

Enthusiastic, eager (to learn) and competitive

Three years ago it would have been social, social, social – it’s a completely different and more stable club now. We do two socials a year to raise funds for the club and we take part in more of the programme.

Best thing you have done with YFC?

Stockjudging is definitely a good skill for someone from a farming background but it’s also helped my public speaking. When I moved into doing public speaking comps the stockjudging helped me be confident about talking in front of people.

I also went to South Africa with YFC Travel last year, which was an amazing experience where we helped create community vegetable gardens. It was great to meet other young farmers from across the country and to find out about their journey through YFC but also to be exposed to a different culture in South Africa.

Greatest achievement in YFC?

Winning the Live Lamb stockjudging competition in 2017 at the Staffordshire County stockjudging competitions at the English Winter Fair. It was a proud moment for me because that’s where my YFC journey began.

Greatest achievement outside of YFC?

Winning the Young Handlers competition at the Royal Welsh twice. That has always been a very proud moment.

Has YFC helped you in your career/studies?

Public speaking is such a useful skill. I am through to the national finals this year in Situations Vacant and this competition has proved really beneficial when I have been going for real-life job interviews and definitely helped me get my new job!

I have just finished a degree in Agriculture and Livestock Science and am about to start a new job at AHDB in the animal genetics team. I have always been really interested in the science behind agriculture and the ways we can improve and become more efficient. The population is expanding at a rapid rate so we are going to have to become more efficient to feed everyone.

Agriculture in general is such an amazing industry to be involved in. YFC creates a community amongst the younger generations. Everyone knows that farming is an isolating place to be and the weekly YFC meetings with like-minded people are a valuable part of Young Farmers.

Best thing you’ve ever made with YFC?

Creativity isn’t my forte but when I was a junior, loom bands were a big craze and I used them to make sheep and a border collie dog. The sheep had a toy wooden gate and the collie dog was rounding the sheep up. My efforts came second at County. I still have the loom band sheep somewhere!

Who would you like to thank in YFC and why?

Amiee Mahony from Leicestershire FYFC for inspiring me to achieve more at stockjudging. I remember scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed a few days before I was off to compete at the English Winter Fair and I saw Aimee had shared an old post about winning one of the classes a few years before, and I thought if I could join that ‘elite’ group of people one day I would be a very happy person. Then when I achieved that goal two years ago, I sent Amiee (who was our County Chairman at the time) a message to tell her that I’d won and that I’d finally joined her ‘group’. Amiee told me that my message had reduced her to tears.

Sadly, Amiee lost her dad last year and her family donated a new junior stockjudging trophy for this year’s County Rally. Our Club managed to win it, which I thought was really fitting. 

If you would like to take part in a YFC profile or want to nominate another YFC member, contact Cheryl Liddle.  

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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