YOUNG Farmers from across the country will be getting together to celebrate the National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs’ Annual Convention in Torquay this weekend.
Top BBC Radio 1 DJs and agricultural speakers will join 5,500 members of Young Farmers’ Clubs at the Riviera Centre. This is the 10th convention at the centre, which hosted the first such event 21 years ago.
The annual convention is estimated to add £4 million to the local economy.
Radio and TV presenter Charlotte Smith will be officially elected as the federation’s new president at the annual meeting on Sunday.
Charlotte, who presents BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today programme and is a regular presenter on BBC 1’s Countryfile, is keen to raise awareness of the issues surrounding rural isolation and the impact this can have on young people.
She said: ‘The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs is an organisation I’ve always been really impressed with – especially as it teaches young people how to talk!
‘Pretty much the youth service in rural Britain is Young Farmers’ Clubs. It’s the local youth club for lots of people and it’s really important, especially for combating isolation issues.’
The annual convention is the highlight of the federation’s calendar, including a packed weekend of competitions, agricultural discussion and entertainment.
The AGRI Forum 2017 will include guest speakers Alexia Robinson, founder of British Food Fortnight; Simon Haley, social media and agri business expert; Jane King, chief executive of AHDB; and Guy Smith, vice president of the NFU.
Five DJs from BBC Radio 1, including Young Farmers’ Ambassadors Scott Mills and Chris Stark, will entertain the crowds; three live bands, Black Stagg, The Supergroup and RPJ band, will perform; and national entertainment competition finals, cheerleading and street dancing will take place over the weekend.
Many of the clubs attending from England and Wales use the journey to Devon to raise some of the estimated £1.2 million the young farmers generate every year for charities.
Young farmers travelling from Yorkshire, Cornwall and Oxfordshire will be trekking, paddling and tandem cycling to the venue in Torquay.
Thirty members of Cornwall Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs will be trekking and paddling more than 100 miles from Padstow, in aid of Alzheimer’s Society.
Ed Ford, chairman of the federation’s council, said: ‘Many Young Farmers’ Clubs members live and work in isolated rural communities and the annual convention is one of the few occasions where young farmers can unite from across England and Wales.
‘It’s also an opportunity to take part in some serious agricultural discussions with leading experts and a time to acknowledge the fantastic work our young farmers do throughout the year to support, not only our members, but also our rural communities.
‘We’ve built strong working relationships with the police, the local authority and businesses in Torquay to make sure this year’s event is entertaining and safe for young farmers and local residents. Our members really enjoy visiting Torquay and all it has to offer.’
The annual convention starts at 1pm today and closes on Sunday evening.