Berkshire Young Farmers' Club

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County Chairmans Report

County Chairmans Report
This has been my second year as county chair and once more it has not been an easy ride. In fact, this year has been extremely difficult and it is all thanks to the small team around me that we have managed to still carry on giving the best to our amazing members in the county.
The year started off the day after our last AGM with the Life Blood campaign. This was a campaign run by the National YFC chairman Chris Manley and Berkshire decided to get fully involved. We organised a group donation and five members donated blood that night. Over the following few months many more donated and even family and friends began to join the cause. We then entered into a competition for all the hard work we had put into the campaign and the amount of people that had donated blood. At the National AGM in Torquay we were shocked – but delighted – to hear that we had won this award. I went up to collect our trophy and have photos with everyone. This was such a proud moment as we are such a small county; it was great to win a National prize!
In December we had the first AGM meeting for newly-formed Windsor and Maidenhead which Georgie, Lydia and myself went to. This was a great achievement for everyone who has been involved in the set-up and special thanks have to go to the Rayner family and the BCA staff who are helping to run the club which have since held lots of fun and interesting meetings and now have over 30 members from the college and the surrounding area.
In January, 10 of our members went on the NFYFC ski trip to Val Thoren in France. I think I can safely say all members who went had a fantastic time and lots of photos were sent back proving as much. Our members did a mix of skiing and snowboarding and it is nice that beginners are learning from the more advanced skiers as well. Seeing members in fancy dress cow outfits skiing down a slope is certainly a sight not to be missed! We also held our public speaking round in January. We had reading teams, public speaking teams and junior and senior member of the year. The reading team read from Billionaire Boy and this book was perfect for our juniors as they could express themselves with emotion and passion as it is all about a boy and his school life which is relatable to them. The public speaking teams kept us all entertained with speeches on farming and modelling. Well done to all who took part and those that won progressed through to the SEA rounds. All too soon it was time for the South East Area rounds and what a success it was! Jess Elliman won Junior member of the year with Ellie coming a close runner up in Senior member of the year. Bradfield’s public speaking team came first and the reading team came third. Our netball and rounders teams both came second as well. These are all great achievements considering our small stature as a county and we always try and enter lots of competition so it was great to get these results. Well done to all who entered, I was very proud. Particular mention to Bradfield’s public speaking team of Stephen, Hannah and Becky then went through to the Southern Regional Finals where they came third! An amazing achievement so well done you three. Jess then went on to compete in the National final for Junior member of the year where she came third! Well done Jess.
Throughout the year we have held several county meetings. This started off with snow tubing in Bracknell. This involves walking up to the top of the dry ski slope with a rubber ring and then climbing in and sliding down the slope. You end up sliding down backwards, spinning around and going down all as a group. This was a great evening. We have also held a scavenger hunt at Thatcham Discovery Centre where it was great to see members working together to find the bits they were asked to. Members have also helped Incredible Edible during the summer to clear some land and make a prototype bug hotel. During October half term Vicars Game invited us for a tour. Members had a great tour and saw animals being butchered and jointed up. Members also got the chance to make sausages and then take them home at the end of the meeting. It was such a fantastic opportunity and special Thanks to Tony for an excellent meeting.
In the spring, Newbury were hosting pre show which was held on a glorious day. Members competed in stock judging, cookery and fencing. It was a great day and nice to see new members competing as well. Thank you to everyone at Newbury for organising these events. We have also had members enter the South of England Show. Jess Elliman came first in the intermediate dairy, Seb came first in Junior pigs and Seb, Carrie and Jess came joint first in junior pigs. Some of our members even helped out the Hampshire Tug of War team.
Also this year 14 members went to Torquay for the National AGM weekend. This is always a great weekend for the seniors and a good chance for them to let their hair down. The first night is always a black-tie evening, the second is fancy dress (with the theme being prince and princesses) and the third is tour top night. This year it was a great success with members spending some time at the beach, watching the entertainment finals and picking up our Life Blood trophy from the AGM. It was also good to have members who had not been on an AGM before coming along to see what it is all about.
All to soon it was the Country Fayre which was held at Englefield Estate. On the Friday night out President Lydia had organised a Jazz and Pimms party using the marquees on the site. This was an extremely well attended event and gave people a perfect opportunity to catch up before the fayre on the Sunday. Thank you to Lydia and her team for organising this amazing event. Moving on to the country fayre and wow what a day! Forgetting all the stresses of the build up a huge thank you has to go to Lydia, Georgie and the country fayre committee. Not only have they managed to secure Englefield for us to use every year but the sun shone again! Berkshire YFC was show cased to the public and the fayre once again raised a lot of money for us. The exhibition tent looked great, the yfc competitions ran in the ring and the co-op floats the clubs made were fantastic. Some of the highlights of the day for me were Ed Ford the National Chairman coming and judging some competitions, the senior slip and slide challenge, the mini metro challenge with clubs fitting as many members as they can in to it, the toilet paper dress up and the fancy dress classes. I think anyone who was at the fayre will agree that it was an incredible day so thank you to everyone who made it happen as I know it really is a team effort. Berkshire have had their annual stand at the Royal County of Berkshire Show with the aim of promoting Berkshire and gaining new members. Clubs manned the stand and spoke to potential recruits. Members of the public could have a go on the mini digger we had set up and we also had our club boards so that people can see what we have been up to. This year we were asked to do an activity on the countryside ring to show case our county. Members competed in a blind sheep dog challenge and pedal tractor races. This was great fun and the members of the public really enjoyed watching everyone. On the Sunday we also had the stock judging on the stand. Thanks to Steve for organising this. Members love doing the stock judging and it is a really good thing for the public to see us do. We had a great write up in the paper the following week and a lovely photograph of all our members on the stand.
The week after the show was NFYFC week and this is a week run by National to try and raise membership across the country. Last year we got involved and ran a whole week of activities but this week we wanted to try something different. On the Monday Georgie and I took the members bowling. This is always a very popular evening with lots of very interesting techniques being used. On the Wednesday clubs were all doing their own meetings so Georgie, Lydia and myself set ourselves the challenge of visiting three clubs that night. We started off by going to visit Newbury who were at Wilton Windmill having a tour. We then went to see Bradfield in Hannington who were visiting the Vine and Craven hounds. We then finished up at Brightwalton hall where Shefford were making scarecrows. It was certainly a manic evening and we covered 83 miles but thank you to all clubs for hosting us and allowing us to visit you. At the end of this week Sarah Collings also went to the Malvern Show to compete in the Flower Arranging finals. She did us proud and came 4th out of 32 competitors. Well done Sarah you should be very proud of yourself.
During October we had the club AGMs and it was great to be able to go and see these happen. It is so lovely to hear the achievements of the clubs and be able to see clubs present cups to their members. I look forward to Windsor and Maidenheads in December after they did they did a great job of hosting the County Harvest Festival in Windsor. This was a lovely evening with members doing readings and parading our club banners. Thank You Colin Rayner for organising this.
In November we had our County Ball which was at Donnington Valley hotel and was attended by over 80 people who enjoyed a three-course meal and dancing until 1am. Thank you to the ball committee who helped me organise everything and to decorate the venue. I think everyone had a wonderful evening.
The past year has certainly been very busy and next year looks set to be no different. Competitions are already being organised, members have booked onto the NFYFC ski trip, the hotel for Blackpool has been booked and county camp is booked for March plus lots more exciting activities are being planned. As I stated at the beginning of this report, it has been an extremely challenging year for me despite all these great successes. Young Farmers prides itself on being run by the members for the members. At the moment Berkshire Young Farmers is not being run by the members. We have a severe lack of intermediates and seniors wishing to take on more senior club and county positions. These roles are falling to older ex members and to a very small select number of people. Young Farmers cannot continue to run without the support of our members. This will be the third year I have been chairman and there is not anyone in the vice chair position or anyone who is willing to learn the role at this stage. At the last exec we put together a small committee of club leaders who are going to run the county as with my full time job I can’t devote the time needed for everything. Young Farmers provides members aged 10-26 with some fantastic opportunities and experiences which can only happen if people agree to take an active role. Less and less people are now coming forward and this is not sustainable. Very soon I will be organising a senior meeting so that all the seniors are aware of this and try and educate them on the roles that need filling and the consequences if this doesn’t happen. As such, I’d really encourage those who can to get involved because it’s truly rewarding and you learn so much.
I would like to thank all the parents and club leaders who support the members in all the activities and competitions they wish to take part in and to all the places you have to drive them to. I would also like to offer my gratitude to my small officer team who have helped me out and who I hope will continue to do so over the next year. I would like to say a huge thank you to Georgie for everything that she does and the support that she gives to me. I can certainly say that without Georgie I would not be able to be county chair and I feel confident knowing she is by my side at all hours of the day. I hope she can put up with me, my phone calls and my early morning text lists for another year.
I feel like I have learnt so much having done this role for the past two years now and I am looking forward to seeing what the new year brings. I would like to end by saying a final thank you to all the enthusiastic young members that we have. Without you there would not be a Berkshire Young Farmers and I would not be as proud as I am of all your achievements over the past year. Katherine Bunn- County Chairman

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