“Its good that you should see at first hand how, in this country that gets so much bad publicity for its unhappy divisions, the Young Farmers’ Clubs movement is still succeeding in uniting people,” stated Lord Grey, the Governor of Northern Ireland, when welcoming young farmers from England, Scotland and Eire to the annual reunion which was held during this week in 1970.
And, in thanking the officers for the care taken in preparing the programme and keeping him fully informed of the detailed arrangement, the Governor declared: “If farming operations generally were planned with such foresight and carried out with such effectiveness, Northern Ireland would have even greater cause to give thanks to the agricultural community.”
Lord Grey said he was happy to be at the reunion, “not just for the pleasant occasion that it is, but, as Governor, to mark by my presence, as the Prime Minister did last year, the importance that is officially given to the Young Farmers’ Club movement”.
The reunion was attended by more than 300 young farmers from all over the United Kingdom as well as guests and representatives of all facets of agriculture and public life in Northern Ireland.
Mr J A Patton, president of the YFCU, who presided, greeted Lord and Lady Grey, and other guests who included Mr John Gilchrist, chairman of Lisburn Rural Council, Mr J Paton, chairman of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs, Mr Kiernan Curtin, president of Macra Na Feirne, Mr Matthew Ryan, chairman of Macra Na Tuaite, Mr S C Meharg, managing director of Messrs John Thompson and Sons Ltd.
Speaking of the role of the Young Farmers’ in the life of Northern Ireland Mr Patton said that the basis of YFC activities was the development of the personality and inherent skills of the individual, and that that was the reason for the wide ranging activities.
“If farming operations generally were planned with such foresight and carried out with such effectiveness, Northern Ireland would have even greater cause to give thanks to the agricultural community.”Lord Grey, Governor of Northern Ireland
Whatever success the YFCU had, he said, stemmed from the basic concept that if they treated as adults as most young people would behave as adults. Although the YFCU had been doing this for 40 years, it was becoming generally regarded as a major sociological discovery.
“The building up of self confidence in our members,” went on Mr Patton, “and the responsibility of leading their contemporaries develops a maturity of thought and a balanced outlook on life. It encourages them to think for themselves and raises them above the tribal instinct that is all to prevalent in Ulster today. This outward looking approach has given our association the opportunity to make its contribution to better community relations.”
The president of Coleraine YFC, Mr Glenn Kerr, was the first to receive the awards presented by Lord Grey. For the second year in succession Coleraine won all four cups - for stock judging, the ET Green Cup (12-16 years) and the Mulholland Cup (16-25 years) and for all other competitions, the J K Dodds Cup (12-16 years) and the Ballyvester Cup (16 to 25 years) - offered for clubs gaining the highest marks in YFCU competitions.
Shields were presented to representatives of clubs who received merit awards in the 1970 YFCU arts festival. These included Coleraine, Kilraughts, Kilrea, Loughgall, Seaforde and Seskinore clubs (special merit for outstanding achievement) and Aughnacloy, Castlecaufield, Clanabogan, Cookstown, Crumlin, Glarryford, Lylehill, Moycraig and Strabane (general merit).
Messrs John Thompson and Sons Ltd, made a gift of a silver gilt chain of office to be worn by presidents of the association. This was handed over by Mr S C Meharg, managing director of the company, who invited Lady Grey to invest Mr Patton with the new chain.
Mr J Paton, chairman of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers’ Clubs, conveyed greetings on behalf of the Scottish association and Eire representatives.
A vote of thanks to Lord and Lady Grey and to all those who had contributed to the evenings success was proposed by Mr John Gilmour, the YFCU deputy president.