National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

Aspiring Rural Leader Award Finalists

Thank you to everyone who entered or nominated someone for the Aspiring Rural Leader Award 2021. The five finalists and the winner of this category have been chosen by farmer and Farmers Weekly columnist Charlie Beaty, NFYFC’s Personal Development Steering Group Chair Polly Baines and former NFYFC Chair Dewi Parry. 

WINNER: Mick Handley, County Chair, Lancashire FYFC

When Lancashire was without a County Organiser during the pandemic, it was thanks to the support of County Chair Mick Handley that the County Federation continued to operate.

Mick has thrown himself into the daily running of the Lancashire Federation office alongside a demanding role as County Chair.

Throughout his busy working day on the farm, he takes phone calls and has not missed a single meeting over Zoom. Now restrictions are lifting, he’s supporting clubs to start operating safely again by following the guidelines.

Described as being a real ‘lifeline’ for Lancashire, Mick has gone above and beyond in his role to support all clubs in the county. He has been an inspiring leader, a hard worker and shown unfailing commitment to his club and county.

RUNNER UP: Club Chair Samantha Gates, Brockenhurst YFC, Hampshire

Samantha’s care and dedication to YFC has helped her club to more than double its membership numbers – even

during the pandemic. It is thanks to Samantha that the club’s meetings moved to an online format during the pandemic, following a successful AGM held over Zoom. She implemented an online programme, and ensured meetings reflected the social and educational YFC values. The meetings provided essential support during lockdowns and helped to combat rural isolation.

When new members joined but didn’t have the confidence to join an online meeting, Samantha arranges mini meetings with the new member and one other more established member to help them feel more involved and confident about joining the regular club meetings.

She regularly reached out to clubs in Hampshire too to invite them to join in their sessions and the club was also the first to arrange the new Rural+ training.

Samantha is described as ‘inspiring’ and someone who helps others to learn new skills and feel positive about themselves, rural life and being part of YFC.


Club Secretary/Treasurer Robbie Hutchinson, Grayrigg YFC

Almost single-handedly Robbie Hutchinson kept his club running throughout the pandemic.

He took on the additional role of Club Treasurer when the elected member found she had no time to carry out her duties due to the fact her job meant she was involved in the North West's large-scale vaccination programme. 

Recognising the vaccination programme was also impacting the local practice team Robbie offered his club’s support to assist with moving furniture, being stewards for car parking and assisting NHS patients on arrival. Their good deeds were recognised in the local press and by the local police – also the positive publicity attracted new members. 

Robbie also encouraged club members to plant 450 metres of hedge at the Westmorland County Agricultural Showground to sup

port not only the agricultural society but the environment generally.   

Well aware of the issues caused by rural isolation Robbie played a key role in ensuring members got involved in online activities throughout lockdown and has now been trained to deliver the new Rural+ Training Module.   

He has tackled difficult situations, managed a mountain of administration and organised online meetings all amid the complexities of Covid-19. He is described as a ‘stalwart’ who has kept the club running and his members safe and, to top off a successful leadership role, the club gained a first at its Virtual Field Day.

Vice Chair and Junior Rep Ben and Junior Rep Harry from Market Bosworth YFC  

When Market Bosworth YFC doubted whether the club could continue for much longer due to a lack of members, Ben and Harry pulled out all the stops to help the club committee turn its fortunes around.

The pair helped to promote the club  – and not just to young farmers but to the wider rural community. They both invited friends to the club and as the weeks passed by, more and more people came to the weekly club meetings.  In less than 12 months, the club now has 18 regular members – even with the impact of the pandemic.  

Harry has organised club meetings on his family farm and during restrictions both Ben and Harry contacted fellow members to check on their wellbeing.  

Their contribution to supporting the club's committee and its members has been impressive – and especially as both Ben and Harry are under 18.  

They have played key roles during a challenging year and helped to ensure Market Bosworth YFC remains open for young people in their community. 


Jessica Rogerson, Pennine YFC, Cumbria, Southern District Chair

Described as a ‘born leader’ Jess has supported all 10 of the clubs in the Southern District throughout her year in office so far, while also helping the local community.  

Eager to contribute throughout the pandemic, Jess ensured members were involved in volunteering at two local Covid-19 vaccination clinics, whether they helped to set up the clinics, became experts at car parking or directed local residents to the correct place.  

Looking out for others is instinctive to Jess and in management meetings she encouraged positivity from members by changing the title of the club update section of the meeting to 'Club Good News.’ It helped to ward off the negativity about the impact of the pandemic on clubs and instead celebrated some of the good things that were happening – from engagements, to babies, to Zoom Bingo! The section of the meeting also gave members a good chance to talk to each other, something that Jess was keen to encourage. 

She is always up for a challenge, although when asked to take part in a 15,000ft skydive alongside 11 other people, she admits she was speechless! Despite the initial shock, Jess completed the challenge and raised thousands of pounds for the district and The Calvert Trust. 

She also threw herself into supporting the County Chief Officer with organising the county’s Virtual Field Day. Usually an event organised by a fully operating club, Jess worked hard to fill the gaps and ensured all clubs within the county had the opportunity to enter competitions. She also helped organise the entries for the Northern Area Field Day. 

Jess’ reputation precedes her as she is well-known throughout the county as the go-to Chair for anything that anyone needs or is struggling with. Although sometimes known as 'Stressy Jessy,' she puts in 100% and wants the best for the district and its members. 



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