WHEN lockdown com-menced back in March 2020, nearly everyone be-lieved that it would “only last a month or two”.
No-one believed that over a year later, when the new committee members took their posts, that everything would still be the same.
Now, almost two years later, in a world still coping with the pandemic, we as a club reflect over the highs and lows of the past year. Everyone faced uncertain times over lockdown but none more so than the agricultural industry and especially its youth.
Living in the countryside can be isolating enough at times and that’s without the government stopping you from meeting with your friends and family – YFCU as an organisation encourages those growing up in the countryside to have the best social life that they can.
Whilst the pandemic stopped meetings in person, like millions of others around the globe YFCU went virtual and even though it wasn’t the same as meeting face-to-face, at least we could all see, talk to and catch up with each other.
As many competitions as possible also went virtual over the summer months, being kicked off with Dairy Stock-judging at the end of April with the competition going live for 24 hours.
Then the day everyone had been waiting for, the start of June, saw the long-awaited return of in-person meetings, commencing with the club’s Sports Night hosted by Club Leader Ellen McMinn, where members took part in football, touch rugby, rugby rounders and were finally able to catch up in person after a hectic year.
As the club hall hadn’t been used during the pandemic it was time for a much needed tidy up from cutting and removing overgrown plants and weeds to scrubbing the floors and doors, club members soon had it spruced up! With things beginning to get back to normal, there was the return of the Treasure Hunt and BBQ. A huge thank you again to Tracey Weir for creating and judging the treasure hunt.
The summer competitions kicked-off with tag rugby, junior teams practice (kindly hosted by the Mitchells) paid off at the Down, Armagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh heats, held in Dromore rugby club, with A+M 1 making it through to and participating in the finals. Afterwards five junior members took part in a friendly tag rugby match at the virtual Open Farm Weekend at Blackberry Hill Farm against staff from Open Farm Weekend and YFCU president Peter Alexander.
The club day out in August took place in Tanvally Hall with Bubble Ball Ni and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The annual Tractor and Truck Run returned but this year with a change of venue to Banbridge Rugby Club – thanks to G A Allen for sponsoring the event for yet another year and for also taking the time to participate in the run, it is always gratefully appreciated. A huge thank you also to everyone who turned out and supported the run through taking part, watching or attending the BBQ afterwards, especially to the 82 tractors, three lorries/trucks and the vintage car.
Well done to the groups of club members who completed both their bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh expeditions – even after the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing it is great to see the affect his legacy has on young people all over the UK.
A&M YFC then held its annual new members night, this year consisting of ice breakers and slippery rounders. Great fun was had by all, especially with the water games.
The first out meeting of the year was a farm walk at Island Dairies followed by some delicious milkshakes. In-person competitions returned with Public Speaking heats in Dromore High with fve members progressing to the finals. The next meeting was given by Matthew Hylands from Iveagh Vets who came along and gave members a very interesting veterinary talk. Members enjoyed county day out to Prison Island escape rooms.
Members travelled to Crumlin Road Gaol for Jail of Horror for our Hallowe’en outing. County Dinner returned to the Clandeyboye Lodge for the first time post-Covid. Well done to all the prize winners and especially to all the juniors who won Best Junior Club yet again.
The last meeting before Christmas was at Dundonald Ice Bowl for skating and bowling.
Over the festive period members donated both presents (Cool FM Cash for Kids) and time (collecting for Via Wings) for charity.
With the continuing easing of regulations post-Covid, the club remodelled its travelling supper into a committee supplied Pot Luck Dinner.
As restrictions continued to ease they were able to once again host the annual party and fundraiser in the Banville. This year’s theme was “White Lies” where those who attended had to write the biggest lie about themselves, secrets were revealed and lots of laughs had.
As the year starts to begin to wind down and come to a close we elected our incoming committee for 2022-2023 at our AGM, which was kicked off by a games night.
Recently members have enjoyed club nights with a return trip to Collone YFC and a tour of Masons Feed learning how different types of meal and blends are produced. Members have also been working very hard in preparation for our annual Parents Night.
Members are looking forward to the busy months ahead and to the future of A+M YFC!
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