Young Farmers savour ‘amazing’ Annual Convention
It promised to be an amazing weekend - and it didn't half live up to the expectations!
Thousands of Young Farmers across England and Wales descended upon Torquay to attend the 2015 NFYFC Annual Convention, sponsored by Massey Ferguson. It was the ninth time that the National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs (NFYFC) had held the annual event in the English Riviera, and it was the biggest ever in Torquay, with nearly 5,400 attendees over the three-day event. That's 1,000 more that attended the last Torquay event in 2012.
Approximately 4,500 wristbands had been pre-ordered for the weekend, with hundreds of Young Farmers turning up to buy tickets on the day as well.
The whole event was a massive success, as evidenced by the hundreds of Young Farmers Tweeting about their epic weekend:
Friday's registration saw Young Farmers streaming into the Riviera International Conference Centre to collect their wristbands, sponsored by Kuhn Farm Machinery, and enjoy some of the freebies being given out by the numerous exhibitors. One of the highlights of Friday registration was the arrival of Cornwall FYFC and Worcestershire FYFC members, who completed charity challenges en route to Torquay and raised thousands of pounds for their respective charities.
Members were treated to a weekend of incredible entertainment from five Radio 1 DJs over the weekend and three live bands and two house DJs. Huw Stephens kicked off the festivities on the Friday night, before Aled Haydn Jones returned for his fourth Annual Convention on the Saturday night, alongside Alice Levine. To top it all off, there was a phenomenal foam party, as Chris Stark returned to bring the house down on Sunday night, along with Dev Griffin.
It was also a hugely successful weekend for several clubs and counties in an action-packed competitions programme. Northumberland's Whitley Chapel YFC came out on top after wowing the crowds in the pantomime competition. Meanwhile Devon YFC's Buckland Brewer and Wooton & Dursley Vale YFC of Gloucestershire triumphed in Commercial Dance and Jump Rope respectively. Mark Curr did Cumbria proud by retaining his title in the darts competition.
And Laura Elliott was the pride of Wales after taking home the much-coveted Senior Member of the Year award. Laura, from Gower YFC in Glamorgan, impressed the judges with her answers about women in engineering and how she would help Young Farmers if she won the lottery. Clubs and counties were also awarded trophies for their charity-fundraising efforts in 2014.
It was a fun-filled weekend for all - but there were also some serious and lively discussions to be had.
On Saturday, dozens of Young Farmers took part in the AGRI Forum, where leading industry speakers discussed what the future of agriculture could hold for Young Fatmers. The crowd heard expert opinion from former NFU President, Sir Peter Kendall, successful arable farmer James Price and co-founder and director of Evolution Farming, Tom Rawson.
The following day saw hundreds of members discuss the future of the federation at the 83rd Annual General Meeting. During the meeting, Poul Christensen was unanimously re-elected as NFYFC President for the third time, while Adrian Willis and Eric Freeman were voted in as Life Vice Presidents.
But the more polarised debates followed, as NFYFC's Council put forward the motion of a 20% levy increase for the second year running, before Northamptonshire YFC encouraged members to vote in favour of increasing the age limit from 26 to 30.
Members voted overwhelmingly in favour of a levy increase, putting the annual membership cost up by £2.66 per member. But the second motion was met with strong objection and was subsequently defeated by the membership. Despite the division over the motion, Poul Christensen praised the Young Farmers for the discussion, saying that it 'showed Young Farmers at their best.'
President Poul was not the only one to praise Young Farmers over the weekend. The local police also commended Young Farmers for their overall behaviour over the weekend, with few incidents reported.
PS Simon Jenkinson, who coordinated policing during the three-day event, tweeted: "Despite these huge numbers, there were few incidents for us to deal with and very few arrests. Well done to all involved! #yfcagm2015"