Derg Valley celebrates 70 years

Cutting of the cake - Oldest member Ual Carson, along with youngest current member Craig Keatley and YFCU President Roberta Simmons
Cutting of the cake - Oldest member Ual Carson, along with youngest current member Craig Keatley and YFCU President Roberta Simmons

Members past and present of Derg Valley Young Farmers’ Club gathered together at the Silver Birches Hotel, on Saturday, April 23, to celebrate their 70th anniversary.

A lot of hard work and preparation was put into the organisation of this event including; writing invitations, selling tickets, gathering memorabilia from over the years, putting presentations together and the list goes on.

Having said this, all the hard work certainly paid off with the event being an enjoyable night to remember.

The evening began with an opportunity for members to take a trip down memory lane by looking through the memorabilia gathered from over the years, have a giggle at some old photographs and also catch up with old friends. This was followed by a lovely three course meal and the cutting of the anniversary cake by the oldest Derg Valley member Uel Carson, youngest member Craig Keatley and YFCU President Roberta Simmons.

Following this there was a delivery of speeches from committee members and YFCU President Roberta Simmons, before finally hitting the dance floor.

The minutes of the first AGM for Derg Valley Young Farmers club bear testimony to the existence of a strong club in 1934. However, although there was an enrolment of more than fifty members, at this particular time the club only ran for a few years.

Following a meeting on December 14, 1945 to assess the demand, it was decided that Derg Valley should be reformed, with the first meeting commencing on the 20th January 1946. According to records, by the end of this very successful year the club had a record number of 72 members within the club. From this year on, Derg Valley has been a prosperous club that continues to strive and grow.

Derg Valley YFC have been a successful club throughout the years, whereby we are delighted that on the lead up to our 70th anniversary the club did the double, not only being awarded ‘Tyrone’s Super Club’ but also top club in Tyrone at the Efficiency Awards.

In addition to this, the club had great success at this year’s conference with Robert Keatley being crowned winner of the Ulster Young Farmer competition once again, Peter Smith being named top club Secretary, Adam Crockett taking second place within the 25-30 age category of the Ulster Young Farmer Competition and also Mark Hamilton winning the farm safety section of Ulster Young Farmer.

Another worthy accolade for the club was winning second place in this year’s Club of the Year competition, being narrowly piped to the post.

The success of Derg Valley YFC can also be seen at a county level, whereby the club is pleased to have had many county office bearers throughout the years. This year Peter Smith was recently elected as the new county chair and Robert Keatley as new County treasurer. In the words of YFCU President Roberta Simmons: “Derg Valley have always been and continue to be an active club within the YFCU, participating in many events and competitions throughout the year.”

One memorable event was when Derg Valley teamed up with City of Derry YFC, on a charity cycle event entitled ‘Conference Challenge 2015’.

This event involved members of the club cycling 130 miles on an eight seater bike to the YFC conference in the La Mon Hotel, Co. Down.

On completion of this challenge, a grand total of £15,000 was raised for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. It is clear to be seen that today’s club places an emphasis on local community links and support for other YFC inter-club events, not only within the county of Tyrone but all over the country. After all, YFCU membership isn’t all about wellies and tractors, but enables members to develop their education, leadership and managerial skills thus also enhancing life skills.

Derg Valley would like to thank all those who came to support the event, to the Silver Birches Hotel for a lovely meal, to ‘The Originals’ for providing the music and also to all those who helped out in many other ways. A great time was had by all.

Derg Valley’s 70th anniversary celebrations continue with a tractor run on May 22 in support of MS Society Northern Ireland.