Here is another chance to read Lex’s report from the 2018 Rally Yearbook, more reports to follow.
I would guess that the people writing ‘my first year’ articles are often a lot younger than 25 (- 26 by the time Rally comes around), and that was my biggest stumbling block when we first moved to Bedfordshire and my boyfriend suggested joining Young Farmers. I thought he was mad.
We both come from Agricultural families, but hadn’t been involved in Young Farmers back home in Norfolk. We had no reason to join now, surely? I imagined a pretty closed clique of well-established members, who would be pretty bemused by a couple of mid-twenties newbies.
It was with trepidation that I allowed myself to be dragged along to Rally 2016 and I was very grudging in my admittance that everything seemed actually quite fun. Everyone bustling about, competing in the classes and the main ring, and the great sense of camaraderie that went with it.
I was even more nervous about actually turning up to a meeting – my first being a tour of the Woburn Estate Deer Park back in October 2016.
Since then, I’m pleased to report, Young Farmers has been a steep but incredibly fun learning curve. The closed clique I imagined is in fact the friendliest bunch of people you could imagine. For any undecided or nervous budding YFC members, I have to give my very biased opinion that Woburn is the club for you. A more welcoming committee and set up you cannot imagine. They are laid- back and enormous fun. Actually, by now, I should really change that to ‘we’ are laid-back and enormous fun! From reluctant member I have now gone to Vice-Chairman, and an ardent advocate for Young Farmers.
I hadn’t known what to expect when joining, but I certainly hadn’t anticipated the amount of involvement and participation available. I hadn’t considered what a weekly meeting might consist of, or even thought about competitions. Excitement and new challenges weren’t on the cards, or so I thought. Yet I found myself doing all sorts of things I hadn’t ever dreamed of. Cattle handling! Stock judging! Hoedown dancing! Tasting around ten practice Key Lime Pies as the other half practiced for his cookery competition was certainly a highlight.
The sense of pride I have received from my achievements in Young Farmers cannot be overstated. I hope that doesn’t sound corny, as it is simply the truth. I thought I would include a run-down of some of my proudest moments;
- The Saturday before Rally, I sat in my garden with a jigsaw and some old pallets (and appropriate safety gear) trying to realise my vision of a spice rack. With my hand-eye coordination, this was no mean feat! On Rally day, my little pallet rack won first prize and the P Abraham Woodwork Trophy, which has stood proudly on the mantelpiece for a year. I have never tried woodwork before, and never felt particularly confident in making things in any medium. I get a fantastic boost every time I see that trophy.
- The second great moment of Rally day was my lamb, the wonderful Layla. David, Sally and Anna Hunt kindly let me work with their lambs for the hand-rearing and showing challenge, and I spent some lovely time at Watergate Farm looking after Layla, a sassy little Suffolk cross, and learning how to show her. Our scrapbook was a labour of love, and our third place rosette for that challenge hangs proudly in my home. Showing livestock is something I have seen all my life at agricultural shows, but coming from an arable farming family, never had a chance to get involved with. Where else could you learn this skill but at Young Farmers?
- My final ‘top three’ moment of YFC pride was the public speaking competition at the end of 2017. Once again, Young Farmers pulled me out of my comfort zone and I got to do something which has boosted my confidence and taught me a great deal. Woburn had fantastic success with our Junior readers and our Senior debating teams placed first and second. Not only was I privileged to be on the winning team with Tim Atkins and Will Nankivell, but also to win best speaker of the day. I maintain that my success is entirely down to the great team of Woburn competitors and supporters, without whom I would never have been able to get past the first sentence on my cards.
In essence, the last eighteen months as a member of Woburn Club have been immense amounts of fun. I want to thank our amazing committee for all their hard work, and for welcoming me into the fold so unreservedly.
I think all that remains for me to say is that I hope you enjoy Rally 2018 and GO WOBURN!!!