On Friday 5th November, Staffordshire County Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (YFC) held their County AGM with County Chairlady, Amy Boothby rounding up her year in office with a very positive report on how Staffordshire YFC have managed to keep going throughout the pandemic. Amy, who took on her role as County Chairlady back in November 2020, just as the third lockdown was introduced across the country, reported to over 100 invited guests and members about how Staffordshire YFC embraced the virtual world and adapted their activities to online zoom evenings including “Would I lie to You” and virtual tours to local companies including Daltons Dairy of Wootton. Once restrictions started to ease in April, the federations membership were able to come together to enjoy activities including rounders, go karting, sports days and then the highlight of the calendar was the County Show held in August.
Although membership finished for the year 2020-21 on 31st August at 291 members aged 10 – 28 years, it was very positive that Amy reported on membership for the year so far from 1st September 2021 was already at 555 members aged 10 – 28 years, with ten active clubs all back up and running on a weekly basis. Amy said “My year has been unique, like no other Staffordshire YFC has ever seen. The last six months have been the absolute best. I’ve been honoured to watch and support Staffordshire YFC and the clubs within as they have bounced back to some form of normality and come back stronger than ever before.”
This years County AGM was kindly supported by Pickering and Butters Solicitors, a firm of Staffordshire Solicitors who were founded over a century ago, with offices based in Stafford and Rugeley. The County AGM most prestigious meeting of the Staffordshire YFC year where silverware is awarded for numerous competitions and achievements throughout the year. Although some silverware was not awarded, the meeting was still able to celebrate over 25 trophies being presented to members and clubs for their many achievements over the last 12 months.
Staffordshire YFC recognised the wonderful efforts of Jack Salt, Chairman of Ashley YFC during the last year, with the Senior Merit Award, which given to a member who is outstanding at Club or County Level. Jack led his club throughout the pandemic, holding covid secure events when possible and encouraging members to get involved. With his fellow officers, Jack took the club through a Covid-19 days of Christmas, not only as Santa on a sleigh, but also as a master of the Catchphrase night on zoom, raising funds for CRY. Jack also organised a very positive and much needed “fireside chat” evening to bring some much needed face to face socialising back when restrictions started to ease. The Club Efficiency Judges said “When looking for an all-round club officer to lead a club, this member ticks all the boxes – good communication, great rapport with members, advisory and county officers and they are happy to go the extra mile. They represent their club well in meetings and are not afraid to challenge and ask questions as well as take on board advice when offered.”
The Junior Merit Award was also presented for outstanding efforts made by a young member of Uttoxeter JNFU, Ed Townsend, for his consistent attendance at their club meetings, including zoom nights. Ed always made a great contribution to his club by taking part in as many competitions as possible, again on zoom, virtual rallies and in person. He committed a lot of their time to tug of war training and float building this year and the Club Efficiency Judges said “Ed is the kind of member every club needs – one who will volunteer straight away and give something new a go.”
Also, during the meeting, Mr George Hawley was elected as County President for his first year. He has been very involved in Cheadle YFC as a member, club officer and went onto be County Chairman of Staffordshire YFC back in the 90s. George is well known by many members as he has always helped at the Annual Rally with main ring commentary and more recently has been a Club Efficiency Judge. On election, George said “Let’s make Staffordshire young farmers stronger than before, it has so much to offer! Life skills, Education, competitions, YFC travel, social events, friendships for life and much more.”
Mr John Stone was elected the Senior Deputy President, again for the first year. John is a former member of Derbyshire YFC from the age of 14. He has been a Vice President of Staffordshire YFC for many years and has been very involved in supporting Waterhouses YFC with his children being members of the club. John and his family have enjoyed hosting many many events at their farm for Staffordshire YFC including 2 County Rallies. John said “I’m a great believer in encouraging and supporting young people to join the Young Farmers Organisation and I look forward to meeting members.”
The presentations of awards were announced by Philip Bourne, retiring County President and presented by Mr Peter Atkin, County Chairman of the Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society. The results were as follows, to the Clubs and Individuals:
H.D. Hobson Cup (for the Club with the highest percentage increase in membership, first presented in the Federation in 1975)
Winner – Stone YFC
Newsletter Shield – Kindly donated by the Staffordshire Newsletter and first presented in 1978
This is presented for the best contribution to the Book of the Year
Runner-up – Cheadle YFC and Chase YFC Winners – Ashley YFC
County Chairman’s Trophy for Outstanding County Officer
Winners – Hannah Britland and Beckie Phillips, as the joint Development Chairladies of Staffordshire YFC.
David Palij Award: Awarded for Charity/Community Work done in a particular year, but not necessarily based on the amount of money raised. The Trophy was presented in memory of the late David Palij, a severely disabled victim of thalidomide who worked in the YFC Office during 1983 until his tragic death in a road accident at the age of 21.
Runner up – Eccleshall YFC; Winners – Ashley YFC
Manifold Marketing Award:
A trophy awarded by Norman Manifold, and first presented in 1995. This award is presented to the Club gaining the highest number of points within the Club Efficiency Competition for the following element – Promoting your Club and Participation and Engagement in Club, County and Community Events.
Joint Runners-up: Cheadle YFC, Chase YFC and Uttoxeter JNFU; Winners: Ashley YFC
Scrapbook Award: First presented in 1992 and given to the Federation by the Vice Chairman of Staffordshire County Council, Mr J E Roberts.
Runners up: Cheadle YFC; Winners: Ashley YFC
Overall Competition Cup for the County Show: Presented to the Federation by Mr R Tonge in 1967 for the best exhibits at the County Show. It is now awarded for the Club who collates the highest number of Competition Points at the County Show Competitions.
Runner-up: Uttoxeter JNFU Winners: Stone YFC
Most Improved Club – Competitions Cup (This is an award given to the club that has improved the most in Competitions from the 2016/2017 year). First presented for YFC use in 1996 and was given to the Federation by the Staffordshire branch of the NFU.
Runner-up: Lichfield YFC; Winners: Stone YFC
Small Clubs Trophy (This is an award given to the club out of the five smallest clubs in the County with regard to membership, who have achieved the most points throughout the year for competitions.) Trophy given to the Federation by the County NFU in 1996.
Runner-up: Chase YFC; Winner: Cheadle YFC
The Ken Unwin MBE Memorial Cup (donated to Staffordshire YFC by the Staffordshire NFU and is given in memory of Mr Ken Unwin MBE and first presented in 2011)
Runner-up: Ashley YFC; Winner: Stone YFC
Overall Competitions Cup Runner-up: Eccleshall YFC; Winners: Uttoxeter JNFU
The final awards of the evening are the most prestigious to receive and are judged throughout the year as a “Club Efficiency” Competition, which encapsulates all aspects of a YFC Club. The aim of the competition is to encourage members and Club Officers to work together as an effective team for the benefit of all. Judges look for all aspects of how the clubs are run and hope to see good club administration and record keeping, strong leadership and governance and active promotion of the clubs through publicity and community engagement. They also want to see teamwork, ideas and enthusiasm from all club members. Also taken into account during this unusual year, was how Clubs adapted and embraced the challenges of the year. From this competition, the following awards were presented:
Most Outstanding Chairman: Joint Runner-up: Jack Salt, Ashley YFC & Toby Hall, Uttoxeter JNFU
Winner: Sarah Bourne, Cheadle YFC
Most Outstanding Secretary: Runner-up: Hollie Kelly, Chase YFC
Winner: Liv Larsson, Ashley YFC
Most Outstanding Treasurer: Runner-up: Kate Oakes, Chase YFC
Winner: Bella Lucas, Ashley YFC
Most Outstanding Club Leader: Runner-up: Phil Wilson, Uttoxeter JNFU
Winner: Sarah Hope, Ashley YFC
Club Efficiency Shield: Runner up: Uttoxeter JNFU
Winner: Ashley YFC
As can be seen from the above, Staffordshire YFC is an organisation for any young people between the ages of 10 and 28 who would like to learn new skills, take up opportunities not available through mainstream education and to become part of their local community with like-minded young people. Despite the Covid19 pandemic, Staffordshire YFC has managed to adapt its youthwork service and keep going, holding activities online and keeping in touch with all members and is now increasing membership on a weekly basis as more young people chose to join their local club for much needed weekly activities and opportunities.