As I wandered past a troop of monkeys, two Oompa-Loompas and an angel on Blackpool promenade, I couldn’t help but feel a bit like Kate Middleton as she was about to enter the national institution that is the monarchy. I was about to be sworn in as president of the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs.
Young Farmers has always played a big part in our family. My mum is still county organiser for Durham and my sister met her husband through the club. So when I was asked to take over from the legendary Lionel Hill and follow in the footsteps of Prince Charles, I was over the moon.
My first duty was judging the the jazz dance finals at the Winter Gardens with my wife. Strangely, the last time I was in Blackpool was for Strictly Come Dancing and as it turned out, I wasn’t the only farmer who would have a go on the dance floor. I even found a new prospective partner… a big lad from Devon. The show of talent didn’t stop there. As well as the Annual General Meeting, Young Farmers displayed their skills in acting, entertainment, quizes and speeches.
Learning life skills
The thing I love about Young Farmers is that the members, aged 10 to 26, are in control of their own destinies and gain confidence through being part of the club. There are around 26,000 members, but they are always looking for more and you don’t have to be a farmer to join, you just need a love of the countryside.
I would guarantee anyone reading this article would know someone well suited to being a new member of the Young Farmers. There’s such a wide diversity of activities to get involved with, it can cater for anybody’s interests.
I’ve always believed that growing up in a rural community is a fantastic start in life, but attending something like Young Farmers teaches invaluable life skills such as responsibility, organisation and being in controlling your future, and it mixes these with a whole lot of fun.
As I sat there and listened to the quality of the speaking at the meeting, I had a feeling this wouldn’t be the last time I’d see some of them in the public eye.