National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

23 May 2019

Somerset Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (FYFC) is celebrating its 85th birthday this year, and will mark this special milestone at the Royal Bath & West Show from 29 May-1 June, whee all YFC members can save £10 off the ticket price

The Somerset FYFC marquee at the Show is themed around the 85th celebration, with current and ex-young farmers encouraged to share their memories on a memory tree, which will bloom as the week goes on. A timeline will feature the locations of all the Royal Bath & West Shows, the dates YFC clubs were formed and landmark farming dates. 

One Somerset family have been YFC members right from the start when the Portbury, Yatton and Nailsea group merged to form North Somerset YFC in 1932. One of the founding members was George Withers from Clapton-in-Gordano: Along with his twin brother, John, these 15-year olds were well-known throughout the YFC and the showing circuit. George’s special interest was Large White pigs, with which he had many showing successes, including at the Bath & West Show, which in earlier years moved location each year.

By 1938 there were over 1,000 members of Somerset YFCs – and being in his twenties when WW2 broke out, George was a member in a time when rationing and petrol tokens were in force.  Members were only issued petrol tokens for meetings, not for dances, so to get around this the members arranged dances to follow meetings. George was a supporter of the branch long after he was too old to attend, and went on to become president of North Somerset YFC in 1988, remaining in the post for several years.

Although petrol tokens were long gone by the time his daughter Carol joined North Somerset YFC in 1962, aged 17, it was still uncommon to have a car. “We used to borrow our parents’ cars to get to meetings, or arrange lifts,” said Carol, who remained a member until she was married.

The family have all met their partners through YFC. Carol remembers she was encouraged to join after her parents thought her current boyfriend was unsuitable. “They thought I would find the right person in Young Farmers, and I obviously did,” she said.

She met her husband, Richard Gell, at North Somerset YFC. Their son, Andrew, duly followed in their footsteps, joining the club when he was 17 in 1985, playing an active role and remaining a member until the age limit of 26.

Likewise, Andrew’s wife, Sarah, was a member of Wrington & District YFC, the first club to be formed in Somerset, taking on many roles throughout her time in the club even after she and Andrew married in 1999. When away at college in Plymouth Sarah joined Devon club, Roborough, for a short time and was pleased that YFC was there to turn to. “I hated being away from home but joining the local club made me feel less homesick,” she said.

The whole family have made friends for life through the YFC, with whom they still regularly meet up.  “One of the good things about young farmers is that it’s run by the members for the members – the advisory don’t get involved unless you want them to,” said Andrew and Sarah's son George who is a current member. “Club numbers do vary each year with people going to university or being out of age, but we’re optimistic about the future of our club.”

The meetings on the club's programme are much the same as in Carol’s day. Stock-judging, talks from companies, ten pin bowling and visits to local businesses to name a few, as well as practice in public speaking and sports. “Hockey was a big part of young farmers – we used to play on Sunday mornings on Weston sands,” says Carol. Hockey is something that has continued down the generations, with their daughter Sarah playing for Somerset at South West Area weekends.

George revealed how things have changed since his parents' day in YFC. “We don’t have as many regular dances and they aren’t in village halls, but the other elements remain.” The introduction of technology has certainly changed things massively. In Andrew’s day, events were listed on a monthly green newsletter, with further details obtained by calling people via the landline. “Now, social media is how we hear about what’s going on,” added George.

YFC members can save £10 off the ticket price to The Royal Bath & West Show from 29 May – 1 June. For more information see here. 


NFYFC newsClub and County news

Social


Designed by Kevyn Williams