The curtain has come down on the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs annual convention weekends – one of the most iconic events among the farming community.
Danusia Osiowy looks at some of the highlights the weekend will be remembered for.
Young Farmers have been enjoying their annual convention since as far back as 1968 when the first ever recorded event was held in Harrogate.
Since then, convention weekend has visited Malvern, Brighton, Cardiff, Great Yarmouth and the Isle of Man among the more recent locations of Torquay and Blackpool.
Alongside friendship, camaraderie and laughter, the three-day weekends have been the talk of the farming community over the decades and no other event compares to what was the biggest event on the YFC calendar.
We take a look at some of the highlights...
THE prevailing power of the Young Farmers movement within the agricultural industry has been regularly demonstrated to record limits at the annual conventions.
In 2014, of the 18 YFC counties which had registered their fundraising efforts, £450,000 had been raised, but this just scratched the surface.
Mark Curr, current chairman of the NFYFC competitions steering committee for 2014/15, said at the time: “The law of averages tells us that if every one of the 48 county federations returned the details of their charity fundraising, the YFC could claim to be raising more than £1.2 million.”
COMPETITION finals have been held at convention weekend following knock-out rounds and year-long rehearsals.
From singing to disco dancing, pantomime to jump rope, the energy and commitment from members is to be applauded and that is not forgetting all those who help in the background, with costume and choreography and everything in between.
SUCH is their significance, club t-shirts even get a dedicated evening to be showcased to fellow members on the final day of the weekend.
The battle of the slogans commences from the outset of an AGM weekend and there are some that never fail to make our eyes bulge ever so slightly.
From topical quips to inter-county digs, they are the gift that keeps on giving.
IT started off as a one-off activity in 2010, but the Farmers Guardian t-shirt became a standard feature during Friday’s reception.
Over the last six years, we began asking members to donate £1 for charities in return for a t-shirt and the efforts raised close to £10,000.
YoungMinds, Air Ambulance, The Louise Hartley Memorial Fund, Farming Community Network and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution have all been beneficiaries to monies raised.
ESSEX Young Farmers launched their single Put That Hoedown in 2014 to raise awareness of rural isolation and mental health.
Thousands of members descended on the dancefloor as Essex performed the single live for the first time at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens. The song went on to reach number one on Amazon’s Singles Chart.
HUNDREDS of people have found love through YFC and many have encountered the beginnings of the chapter at the AGM.
Whether that is with a fellow club member or a federation from afar, the foundation for a strong and happy marriage will often date back to a convention weekend among the farming community.
FG’s head of livestock Katie Jones and head of machinery James Rickard both found their respective partners at AGMs.
Katie, a former member of Middlewich YFC, says: “Historically, YFC was often likened to a marriage bureau for its members, with generations of farming folk meeting their future partners, husbands and wives while involved in the movement.
"In today’s world, little seems to have changed, as YFC is still a fantastic way of meeting people with similar interests.”
The first AGM is held at Harrogate; the following five years see it held at Malvern, Llandudno, Eastbourne, Great Yarmouth and Paignton.
Held at Blackpool for the first time; it would return a further 23 times, the most of any town and venue.
The AGM heads to Cardiff for its one and only time in the capital of Wales.
Brighton is the host venue; the Young Farmers would return again in 1979.
Young Farmers head across the sea to the Isle of Man; it would return in 1983, 1986 and 1990, but ferry companies grew tired of rowdy behaviour on the crossing.
Bournemouth stages the event for the first time, and hosts it a second time in 1988 and third time in 1999.
Minehead stages the event for its one and only time and the AGM heads to Torquay in 1996.
In the midst of the foot-andmouth crisis, Torquay hosts a mini convention, but with no AGM; from now until 2018, the event switches between the south coast and Blackpool.