It’s a ‘ruby jubilee’ year not only for the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, but also for Robert Wilson and Sons (Ulster) Ltd, sponsors of the Burnhouse Award scheme, whose Ulster business was established 40 years ago.
This was stated by Mr R Clement Wilson, chairman of the company at the handing over of the 1969 award – a nine-month study tour of New Zealand – to 20-year-old Downpatrick farmer Norman Lowe of Ringcladdy, Ballyculter, at the Stormont hotel, Belfast, last week.
Referring to the “tremendous changes” over the past 40 years in farming, business and society, Mr Wilson pointed to the increasing rapidity of scientific and technological development.
He warned against the danger of “making gods” out of science and technology. “They are merely wonderful tools to be used in the development of men and mankind,” he said.
Turning to the actual award, Mr Wilson said he was sure Norman would be a “worthy” ambassador of Northern Ireland and its people. “You will learn much,” he told Norman, “but I am equally sure you will have a lot to contribute.”
Chief guest at the presentation was Major James D Chichester-Clark, the Minister of Agriculture.
“In Northern Ireland we tend to get somewhat isolated and insular,” he said.
“The award scheme however, enabled Ulster young farmers to go out into the world and bring back new techniques and methods which could be used to improve agriculture in Ulster, he said.
The Minister added that in Norman Lowe he was sure Northern Ireland would have a very good representative in New Zealand and he thanked Robert Wilson and Sons (Ulster) Ltd for sponsoring the award scheme, now in its fifth year.
Mr William Fullerton, president of the YFCU, described the Burnhouse scheme as a “very generous gesture” on behalf of the company and said that Norman was an outstanding winner.
Under the scheme, Norman will visit both the North and South Islands of New Zealand, studying the country’s agriculture and the organisation of its rural youth clubs.
Norman, who is a member of Downpatrick Young Farmers Club, now runs one of his father’s three farms at Ballyculter, and is responsible for a 70-cow dairy herd.