THE idea to present a trophy for machinery handling at Balmoral Show came out of past events,” said Ian Harvey MBE, feature writer for FarmWeek, as he looked back with fond memories over a lifetime of service to the farming community and recalling his years as a staff member of the YFCU.
After Greenmount Agricultural College and five years on the family farm in Donegal, he joined the Young Farmers’ HQ staff in February 1974 based on the Antrim Road, Belfast. It was as he put it, a learning curve, an important element in the development of his future career in agricultural broadcasting and journalism.
Ian was responsible for the YFCU’S agricultural activities, organising
and running the national stock judging final competitions for cattle, sheep and pigs, including group debating and public speaking competitions.
A former Irish Champion rower, Ian decided in 2000 to raise money for the Fields of Life, a Christian all-Ireland non-denominational charity, by sculling 212 miles on rivers, lakes and canals from Enniskillen to Dublin.
When Stephen Dowie of the YFCU staff heard about Ian’s venture he suggested that two groups of Young Farmers could support him on his journey and look after his safety as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.
That was the beginning of an extraordinary series of generous acts of practical safety backing and financial fundraising support for his next epic journeys rowing single-handedly across the world’s two largest lakes, Lake Victoria 2003 and Lake Superior 2005, for Fields of Life and BBC Children in Need.
As a heartfelt thank you to all those wonderful young supporters Ian felt it would be appropriate to commission a unique and bespoke perpetual trophy for the YFCU Machinery Handling competition to be presented at the finals during Balmoral Show 2021.
Its creative metalwork design and manufacture was worked out in close collaboration with Monea Metal Design, County Fermanagh, an alternative business run on the family beef farm by Gerard Meehan in conjunction with his wife Una and brother Aidan.
The Machinery Handling event, which promotes farm safety, will be a particularly engaging reminder for Ian since he was its first commentator, as a staff member of the YFCU, for the competition’s inaugural appearance at Balmoral Show in the mid 1970s.
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