A group of local young farmers met together in Connor Orange Hall in 1959. The first officials were James Brown, club leader, and Barbara Montgomery, secretary.
The club has progressed in many ways over the past 60 years. It has had success in many competitions at both Area and Northern Ireland levels, namely stockjudging, public speaking, fencing, Ulster Young Farmer, rugby and many more.
Indeed, Kells and Connor has produced two YFCU Presidents, the late Mrs Linda Currie and Mr Robin Swann.
The club year 2019-2020 was the club’s year of celebration. The club year included the usual programme of meetings, go karting, ice-skating, Brain of Kells and Connor, and a Christmas party for the younger children of the community. Area competitions were also attended by some of the members like stockjudging, public speaking, floral art and Ulster Young Farmer.
Kells and Connor members have raised many thousands of pounds over the past 60 years for various charities through events such as a bed push, a shoe push, treasure hunts and sponsored walks.
Friends of the Cancer Centre was chosen as the club’s charity for this year. Peter McWhirter, Sarah Davidson, Andrew White, Houston Bonar and James Fullerton came up with the idea of a cycle. This was no ordinary route, 600 miles in six days through the six counties of Northern Ireland.
They encountered some horrendous weather but were blown away by the kindness of people at the various venues they used for overnight accommodation. Many members of the club met up with them on the final leg of their journey and they returned to a rousing welcome home in Supervalu car park in Kells. A welcome supper was provided by Sizzlers chip shop.
The sponsorship from the cycle ride was added to a collection from the church service in Connor Presbyterian, a stationary cycle ride kindly hosted by McCool’s SuperValu and a raffle and auction held at the anniversary dinner. A total of over £5000 was raised for this worthy cause and the cheque was presented at the anniversary dinner.
A lot of work went into a very successful dinner dance in November when over 200 past and present members, friends and families met in the Rosspark Hotel. Guest speaker was Mrs Zita McNaughter, President of the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster.
Support in the community is also a very important aspect of club life and the club likes to hold events to include the local community.
After the success of the community table quiz the previous year, several people asked if the club would run it again. This year Connor Presbyterian hall was packed to near capacity and the club thanks everyone for their support for a great night’s craic.
Connor was also the venue for the annual church service and several members took part in the service.
The Parents and Friends’ night preparations were well underway with members ready to begin practises when coronavirus struck. This was to be the end of the 60th anniversary celebrations with past members to join members to take part in the play. This has had to be put aside for now, but the club hopes in the future to be able to perform for its loyal audience.
Over the years some of the club trophies that would be presented to members on Parents Night have gone astray. If you would happen to have any please get in touch with any of the members.
During the Covid lockdown Kells and Connor put together a very entertaining Toilet Roll video which had many views on Facebook. This was one way to keep in contact with members. Families were also included in a Bingo night on Zoom. A few members also joined in supporting the NHS with the Rainbow Campaign in various forms.
Virtual stockjudging has been another way members have kept their hand in, taking part in Dairy, Beef and Sheep area judging. This has proved challenging as it makes it more difficult when you cannot see the animals in “real life”. However, well done to those involved in organising these competitions.
Through the past 60 years we have lost many members of Kells and Connor Young Farmers’ Club. Recently we lost Mr Jim McBride, our Past President and Patron of Kells and Connor, a great supporter of the club in any way he could.
Going forward, none of us know what, if any, form our Young Farmers’ year will take. But the club will endeavour to keep in contact with members and will have a programme ready to roll when life resumes to some form of normality. The club would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supports Kells and Connor YFC in any way.