Bradfield & District

At Bradfield Young Farmers, we like to have fun and enjoy ourselves but also learn about the countryside, the people who live and work in it. We actively develop skills through hands-on experience and competitions.

Meetings are every Wednesday evening and based at Milehouse Farm, Theale. We make use of the surrounding area and facilities.

Take a look at our 2021/22 News (below) for an idea of the range of activities we get up to, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to know more.

  • Don’t worry about the age range of members (10 – 28 yrs) – we all get on!
  • All members have a say in what we do so all suggestions are welcome.
  • Members are supported by adult Club Leaders who along with Senior members are DBS checked.
  • Membership includes extensive YFC insurance for all activities and we have qualified first aiders present at our meetings.

If you’ve got any questions about Bradfield YFC, please ask one of our committee, they’ll be only too pleased to help you.

You can keep up to date with Bradfield YFC via Facebook.

Bradfield & District YFC 2021/22 News

By Gordon Fletcher, Club Leader

What an amazing year. From a starting point of having NO club officers, bar myself, and seriously wondering what the future was for the Club, to the team, community, and competitive success that the Club reported on at the 2022 AGM has been a remarkable journey…

In the run up to the 2021 Christmas period, Bradfield YFC members certainly got into the spirit of things. A chocolate tempering evening caused much hilarity as we endeavoured to create chocolate domes with water balloons – cue excessive chocolate temperatures and exploding balloons! Melted chocolate. Everywhere! Not that anybody seemed to mind. Lesson learned and some reasonable chocolate domes and decorative pieces were produced once more gentle and sympathetic handling of the chocolate had been mastered.

Staying on a creative bent, we attempted our own Christmas wreaths using nothing more than Holly, Fir, Ivy and Rosemary from Gordon’s Garden and few ribbons and baubles to brighten them up. Some members found this harder than others. Not sure how sturdy some of the wreaths were, but the Clubroom smelt like Christmas and with Carols in the background it was an enjoyable meeting for all involved. It was yet more edible creations for our Festive Icing evening with the members learning piping techniques and using buttercream and fondant icing to decorate a selection of festive gingerbread shapes and cupcakes.  Festive fever had taken hold by this point and with much icing and sugar being consumed I would be surprised if many of the members managed to sleep that night.

The annual trip to the Pantomime at the Corn Exchange in Newbury had been a Covid doubt, and indeed several members felt that so close Christmas it was potentially a Covid risk. So, it was only small group of YFC members were in the balcony to enjoy Cinderella, “Oh Yesss they did!”

January and the New Year for Bradfield YFC members was dominated by the County Public Speaking competitions. The Club was active in practicing Ultimate Frisbee. A messy games night included far too much syrup and flour. Much fun was had perusing the Club photo archive, especially when parents or older siblings or even grandparents were recognised as having had a younger YFC life.

Our Public Speaking record in recent years has been outstanding and this years’ crop had much to live up to. Practices started at the beginning of the year and over the weeks leading to the County Competition.

Bradfield members, Alice and Josh, would be challenging for title of Member of the Year. They submitted a synopsis and underwent formal interviews on their YFC involvement. Both members won their respective competitions!

In the Reading, we had two newcomers to public speaking. Reading from the title “Twelve Minutes to Midnight”, Marnie showed Maisie and Maddy how it was done and both youngsters performed brilliantly,  overcoming their nerves in this daunting competition

The team came second but given their inexperience have much potential for the years to come. The Speakers of Alice, Scarlett and Aine are now old hands at Public Speaking.   It was a powerful performance that resulted in not only a minute’s silence but the judges being moved to tears by the speech from Scarlett about her experience as the daughter of a nurse working through Covid.

Not to be outdone, our small but brave band of Intermediates took on unknown topics in a Brainstrust debate. Stephen and Hannah returning from university digs were joined by Zoe and Josh. Discussing such topics as Artificial Intelligence, compulsory Covid vaccinations and the decline of the younger generations in British Agriculture.

We were visited by Simon Fernandez for a Sausage making evening, members formulated their own flavourings and learned to fill casings and tie up sausages before taking their own creations home.

An Ecology evening from November was followed up by a talk on River Ecology, Chalk streams and Conservation, by ARK – Action for the River Kennet who highlighted action we can take at home to safeguard local waterways.

We of course had our Annual Pancake mess! With the basic ingredients supplied, the members were tasked with creating unusual fillings or toppings. I don’t know if it was a lack of imagination and creativity or simply the lure of chocolate as we didn’t see much more than choc spread, strawberries and squirty cream (yes, all on the same pancake!). Despite the mess, or perhaps because of it, it was of course an enjoyable evening.

We attempted to work off those calories the following week with a mixed Sports evening covering Frisbee, Volleyball and Football. Many thanks to Bradfield Riding Stables for allowing us to use their indoor school.

Our members practised hard for the Southeast Area competitions where members travelled to the Kent County Showground to represent Berkshire YFC in three Public Speaking competitions and both sections of the prestigious Member of the Year competition for a place in the NFYFC finals. Berkshire were first in the Reading competition with extracts from Little Women, efficiently chaired by Marnie. The Speaking team also won, with Alice and Aine confidently looking after a visiting “speaker” and our own speaker, Scarlett, enthralled the audience with her talk on “Our NHS Heroes”.  

Not to be outdone, the Brainstrust team of Hannah, Stephen Josh and Zoe, took on and discussed three questions based on current affairs and agricultural hot topics. (In depth reports on these comps are given elsewhere)

We joined the local Village Hall Committee for the joint fundraising Race Night and Fish & Chips. Good fun was had by all at this community event which has raised over £500 for each group.

Stock judging, Fence Erecting and Cookery classes were hosted by Newbury YFC and Bradfield members practiced at Rushall Farm to hone their assessment and reason giving skills.

Stock judging is a daunting competition, but, as usual, all the Bradfield members – seasoned competitors and new faces all gave it their best – our training must have paid off because plenty of placings and points were gained. Indeed, four of our members were selected to represent Berkshire in the Young Stock judge of the Year competition at the South of England Show.

In the Fence Erecting, an inexperienced team of Josh, Bradley and Stephen battled hard against the ground conditions to erect a prescribed piece of fence  – 24 m long with two hand dug strainers, stock net, with a hand joint and three lines of plain wire. A tough ask when digging in gravel, they worked well but were unable to beat the more experienced team from Shefford.

Bradfield were the only club to field a Cookery team – the task for the team of three was create a four-course meal, two servings per course, in an hour with only two gas burners!

Not only did they manage it, in a barn whilst being watched and judged, they made it look easy.

Three Junior members, Maisie, Kate, and Skye, prepped, chopped, cooked, and displayed their menu of local or home grown produce fit for the Jubilee dinner. In a competition akin to the Great British Menu, it was fantastic to see these youngsters using and applying skills we’ve taught in our Club meetings!

Berkshire Country Fayre was of course the focus of club activity over April and May and boy did it pay off on the day! A weekend of YFC events saw members take a night off to enjoy the Wurzels gig at Newbury Showground before getting back to their preparation for the Show classes. Bradfield Club members were brilliant.

A massive team effort pulled together all the Static exhibits from serious pieces of artwork, needlework, woodwork, and metalwork to the amusing posters featuring the Club leaders’ mug shot! Superb support from parents and families and ex-members, meant we had exhibits from younger siblings with cupcakes, bug hotels and felt cartoon characters. Over club age exhibits of flower arranging, cakes and Sloe Gin. It was of course the members themselves who were centre stage with their fabulous floral arrangements, stunning creative art, photography, crafting, and writing.

The day itself is also about the practical classes and putting YFC members talents on display for the public to enjoy. The club and our members excelled in the machinery handling and pallet recycling, they were both fun and competitive in everything that they did from Welly Wanging, to Slip and Slide to Cheerleading to Tug of War to practical cake decorating and life drawing and identification. They got stuck in, every single one of them.

A great haul of class titles and silverware over the day was just reward for the effort and hard work of our members.

Of note were wins for the overall points in practical classes on the day, the Junior Tug of War team, and particularly special and fitting for the Club, was to be the first ever recipient of the new “Jim Balsdon Photography Trophy.” This was something that Bradfield had rallied the County to put in place and we were delighted to have received it. 

We may not have won the Club Floats class, but the reaction to our Royal procession which was complete with Royal Guards, Royal Waves and Club members enjoying the Bradfield Street Party, was brilliant and certainly made the mess of painting flags in Milehouse and cutting up marquee poles on the day, well worth it.

As Club Leader I am always proud of what our members achieve, but the teamwork and ‘whole Club contribution’ that took place this year was something very special to be part of. Maybe it was because we haven’t had a proper YFC show for two years, maybe it was because many members were experiencing this for the first time, but maybe these youngsters, given the opportunity and support also have a little bit of magic to show us.

Club success at the Country Fayre has been followed up with a celebration BBQ and a Programme of meetings to keep the members busy. We visited Chiltern Rifle Club for an evening of Target practice with rifles, keen rivalry revealed some hitherto unknown talents! Members took part in a three and bit mile walk over the Downs to finish at the Bell in Aldworth.

The Countryside ramble theme didn’t end there as Bradfield hosted the Berks Country Spotters competition, where members followed a trail, answered observational questions, and completed identification sheets on leaves, invertebrates, and birds.

Bradfield members took many of the top ten placings, with Alice and Scarlett the top Bradfield pairing in second overall to Shefford.

The whole club joined with Shefford YFC for a Farm visit and talk at Rookery Farms, Curridge.  Dan Willis is a well-known local contractor and opened his farm and machinery to Club members.

The evening included a trending social media challenge; #tractorcabchallenge. Essentially how many people can you get in a tractor cab? Well, our Clubs jointly managed 21 members and the video is available on YouTube as part of the Real Countryfile.

The focus post Country Fayre was the preparation for the National Finals in Stafford. Teams in Reading, Speaking, Brainstrust, Junior Member of the Year and Ultimate Frisbee made for an exceedingly busy time. Preparation even included creating a video using drone filming for a social media reel.

Suited and booted, Bradfield members made the way to Stafford County Showground with plenty of support. All our members excelled in their performances and really stepped up to the plate to deliver their best performances yet.

The Brainstrust guys, Hannah, Josh, Stephen, and Zoe discussed support for British Agriculture, and Rural crime. Scarlett delivered her speech on her NHS hero and, not for the first time, reduced an audience to tears – worryingly the judges said they weren’t sure how to judge such an emotional address.

Alice and Aine are something of a dream team as Chair and Vote of Thanks and handled their visiting speaker with great authority!

The Reading team was successfully chaired by Marnie as the team read passages from Valley of Lost Secrets. Alice was back in action in Member of the Year giving a 10-minute Power Point presentation followed by a formal interview and questions!

It is astounding that one Club manages to have this array of talent in its membership, and whilst we were simply proud to just be there, to have the Speaking team achieve Second place in the National finals was a particularly joyous moment that we will all savour.

In a memorable weekend for Alice, she also achieved equal fourth place in the coveted National Junior Member of the Year! Bradfield members were the bulk of the Berkshire Frisbee team in the heat of the Summer and although they were unable to impact the placings they battled well and played with great determination. We are very proud of all our members who have achieved so many amazing things this year.

The new Club membership year started with members navigating their way through the new online membership process, which has not been as smooth as it could have been. We had a strong start-up meeting with a visit to David the Hawk man and his amazing collection of Birds of Prey. Members were treated to up close and personal introductions to his birds.  

We have run a Quiz night and Nick & John-Paul Perry has given us a talk on Hedge Laying and the tools of the trade. Scarlett was back in National action, this time Flower arranging where she achieved an incredible 4th place in her first ever experience at this level.

A successful AGM was run at the beginning of October, with Club Vice Presidents, Advisory members, and parents in attendance to hear the members submit reports on a whole host of their activities for the last year.

The Club has had an amazingly successful year both competitively and as a community, so it was a positive evening celebrating those successes. The meeting was Chaired by Club President, Chris Webber, who was impressed with the members reports and presentations. The meeting ended with the presentation of Club awards, which rewards members’ achievements and successes for the year. It was SO difficult to reward a few individuals when so many had contributed to so much Club success in 2022!

Thank you to everyone contributed to our mammoth year. I have been immensely proud of all Bradfield members this year.

Bradfield YFC Photo Gallery