Rathfriland Young Farmers’ Club celebrate 75th diamond anniversary Year

From their AGM in February 2019, Rathfriland YFC have been celebrating their 75th anniversary year, concluding in February 2020.

This diamond milestone is a huge success for any voluntary community group, none less than Rathfriland YFC.

The club, nestled in the heart of Rathfriland, Co Down has seen both hardships and achievements and over the course of this past year these milestones were celebrated by club members past and present, family, friends and acquaintances.

Rathfriland Young Farmers’ Club was established and formed on 26th February 1944 under the presidency of Mr J H Heron and club leader, Alex Cromie.

75 years on club president, Roberta Simmons and club leader, Stephen Gordon, along with committee and club members were delighted to have been able to celebrate and mark their milestone year.

Home for the club was firstly in Castle Street, moving to Newry Street and latterly ending up where the club are now in Downpatrick Street.

To mark the milestone anniversary year, Rathfriland Young Farmers’ Club held a number of events and fundraisers including their annual tractor run and Christmas carols by candlelight.

For the club’s 75th year, the committee decided to add a charity partner, the Southern Area Hospice, and have a proportion of proceeds from all events held throughout the year donated to the hospice.

Southern Area Hospice Services (SAHS) is local to the club and relies heavily on the generosity and support of local people coupled with the help of volunteers who ensure staff deliver life changing services both directly and indirectly, from patient care to fundraising.

All SAH services are provided free of charge and they rely on 73p in every pound coming from fundraising to enable them to care and support patients and their families.

This year, the fundraising department has to raise £2.6 million in order to maintain the level of care currently available.

This equates to £216,666 per month, £50,000 per week or £7,123 per day.

A memorable event for the year was the sponsored cycle held in September 2019.

Club vice-president, Simon Agnew led cyclists by tractor as they embarked on the 75km.

The team of cyclists included, Stephen Gordon, Roberta Simmons, Lois Bingham, Gareth McCabe, Rachael McMinn, John McCabe, Jonny Adams, Colin McMinn, Ella McCallister, Neil McMinn, Hannah Cromie and Gary Hillen.

After a delicious breakfast supplied by Vera and Ernie in Rathfriland the members headed off to the Southern Area Hospice grounds in Newry via the Mourne Coastal Route.

The team cycled through Castlewellan, Newcastle, Annalong stopping there for refreshments which were kindly provided by the Barbican, Annalong.

Members then continued through Kilkeel, Rostrevor, Warrenpoint and finally to the destination of the Southern Area Hospice grounds in Newry.

The club year of celebrations cumulated in the 75th anniversary dinner which was held at the newly refurbished Belmont Hotel, Banbridge on Saturday 19th October 2019.

On the evening club president, Roberta Simmons opened the evening by giving a brief history of the club and welcoming the guests.

Speeches then followed from William Hanna, club trustee and hall secretary and treasurer, Matthew Murphy, club secretary who provided an extensive secretary’s report for the year, Zita McNaugher, YFCU president and grace by Stephen Gordon, club leader.

Rathfriland YFC were delighted to be joined on the evening by former YFCU president and Trillick and District YFC member, Joe Graham, who acted as MC.

Guests enjoyed a three course meal followed by music by the brilliant Untouchables Band.

The night concluded with an auction and raffle in which vital funds were raised thanks to the generosity of all those who attended.

Raffle prizes on the evening were supplied by:

Susan Evans Hairdressing, Lisburn

Barrel and Bean, Dromore

Evans Farm Shop, Lisburn

The Beauty Nest, Lambeg

Café Vic-Ryn, Lisburn

R. McCullough Butchers, Rathfriland

Martha Jaynes Ladieswear Rathfriland

Fane Valley, Rathfriland

Eurospar Rathfriland

Frazers Animal Feeds, Ballinaskeagh

The Maghera Inn, Castlewellan

Formula Karting, Newry

The Downshire Arms, Hilltown

The Galley Take Away and Restaurant, Annalong

Rosehip Café and Bakery, Banbridge

Blend and Batch, Banbridge

Mayobridge Golf Club

Mayobridge Pharmacy

The Halfway House, Banbridge

SM Shoes, Rathfriland

Jumpboxx, Banbridge

Fabulous Beauty Studio, Rathfriland

Gordon’s Chemist, Rathfriland

Carnbrook Meats, Dromara

DN Tyres, Rathfriland

Windsor Toal, Rathfriland

Herron Trailers, Castlewellan.

Auction prizes on the evening were kindly donated by:

David Rodgers Toymaster, Banbridge

The Echlinville Distillery, Kircubbin

Len McCoy and Partners, Katesbridge

James Knox and Sons Limited, Kilkeel

P Turley and Son, Moneyslane

Houstons, Banbridge

FS Herron, Ballyward

Joseph Walls Limited, Hilltown

Todds Leap, Ballygawley

J N Hire Ltd, Kilkeel

Mourne Firewood Supplies, Kilkeel

McMinn Boiler Services, Katesbridge.

The event itself was sponsored by the following businesses, which allowed the club to produce a commemorative anniversary magazine:

Gordon Bell and Son, Solicitors, Rathfriland

Macauley and Simpson, NFU Mutual, Banbridge

Kingsmill Finance

Land Mobility Scheme Northern Ireland

Stephen Gordon, Agricultural Contractor

Dale Kane Trailers

G A Allen Farm Machinery

Wheatfield Equestrian and Livery Centre

McMinn Boiler Services

Level Up Digital Imaging Limited

Marcus Bingham Architectural Design Services

Ideal Window Automation Systems Limited

Ideal Hardware Supplies Limited


Dale Farm.

The club and committee were delighted that the evening was a great success and would like to thank all local businesses and individuals who sponsored and donated to this event, without whom it would not have been such a success.

From these events and through the generosity of the local Rathfriland community and beyond, Rathfriland YFC were able to donate an incredible £2163.57 to the Southern Area Hospice Services. 

Last week, due to Covid-19 three individuals made this presentation to the hospice, using social distancing measures.

The club would like to acknowledge the hospice staff for all the hard work they do and the bravery shown when working during the current pandemic of Covid-19.

The year wouldn’t have been such a success without such a strong hard-working committee, club members and parents of club members and of course to the wonderful community that has supported the club not only this year but throughout the club’s 75 years. So all at Rathfriland Young Farmers’ Club say thank you.

Please also remember Rathfriland YFC are offering their services at the present time to the elderly and vulnerable, should they require any assistance with prescriptions or any food collection/delivery.

Please get in touch with the club’s Facebook page or indeed any club or committee member and the club will only be too happy to help.