Organised by the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs, the three-day event welcomed 6,200 members from across England and Wales to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens for a weekend which included national competition finals, the annual AGM, a hive of social activity and a mammoth fundraising drive which is estimated to have raised more than £1 million for good causes.
NFYFC said the success of the event was testament to the enthusiasm of its members – a positive signal for the farming industry – and illustrative of the talent rising up through the ranks.
NFYFC chief executive James Eckley said: “We need to always be forward-thinking and embracing the enthusiasm of our younger members.
“It is this enthusiasm and cherishing our traditions which allows our membership to keep growing and moving forward.
“We are so proud of the place we hold in agricultural communities and we are looking to maximise all our partnerships to reach counties across England and Wales.”
NFYFC confirmed the attendance was the highest it had been in 12 years – the funds from which have contributed to the significant decrease in the trading deficit.
The deficit fell from £100,000 in 2015 to £23,000 due to a combination of rigorous cost savings made by NFYFC staff, council and steering groups, a 20 per cent levy increase approved at last year’s AGM, increased levels of sponsorship and a £10,000 donation received from its commercial trading arm HOPS Labour Solutions.
Mr Eckley confirmed money raised from last weekend’s event ensured the organisation was no longer in debt.
Mr Eckley said: “We have examined every element in house over the last 12 months to ensure we gain maximum value for money.
“Last year’s convention saw a record attendance for that area and, as a result, the event surplus was significantly more than the budget which helped drive down the deficit.
“This, along with the 2016 bumper convention, means we are now out of the red and back into the black. It has been a 360-degree journey.”
Raising the stakes seemed to be a common issue throughout the weekend as organisers also announced of the 18 YFC counties which had registered their fundraising efforts, a total of £450,280.23 had been raised.
But, incredibly, Mark Curr, chairman of the NFYFC competitions steering group for 2014/2015, believed the figure just ‘scratched the surface’.
He said: “The laws 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 in excess of £1.2 million.”
This year the Cornwall federation once again took home the Prince of Wales Trophy which is awarded to the county raising the most money per member for a charitable cause outside of YFC.
Cornwall had raised £71.88 per member, equating to £52,760.