Ballyclare’s busy winter programme

THE Ballyclare Group’s activities kicked off in September when the annual bus trip headed off to Somerset and the Southern Cotswolds from 23rd to 28th September.

Forty two members and friends headed off in the early hours for their six day adventure. They sailed out of Dublin for Holyhead, on an Ulsterbus Premier Coach, and travelled to the Best Western Hotel at Clevedon, which looks across the Severn Estuary towards the Welsh Hills, where they stayed for four nights.

During their stay they visited Clark’s outlet Village in the village of Street near Glastonbury, a local cattle and lamb market near Bridgewater, thankfully they resisted temptation and managed not to buy any livestock.

Unfortunately the scheduled tour of the Cheddar Caves and Gorge had to be cancelled due to heavy flooding at that time.

The group also enjoyed a morning of sight-seeing and shopping in the beautiful city of Bath and a drive through the quaint villages of the Southern Cotswolds. A full and thoroughly enjoyable day was spent at Longleat Safari Park and Longleat House.

On their way home the group stopped off in Cardiff for a tour of The Millennium Stadium, home of Welsh rugby. This proved to be a really first class experience and enjoyed by all. The group then stayed in the Celtic Royal Hotel in Caernarfon, followed by a relaxing morning before heading home.

Into October, the first group meeting was held in Ballyclare Golf club. Malcolm Downey from the Health and Safety Executive spoke highlighting the need to have good working practises.

The group managers, Ian Kernohan and Joyce McConnell, emphasised to their members that the NFU Mutual provide an excellent risk management service for farming and commercial businesses including all the necessary documentation relating to risk assessments, employee training and more. This service is provided by Kevin Acum, of the NFU, and anyone interested in this service should contact the Ballyclare office.

Also giving a presentation at this meeting was Gary Coogan, financial consultant with the NFU. He reminded those present of the need for forward financial planning for you and your family.

Gary is based in the Ballyclare office and deals with taxation, inheritance planning, pensions, savings and investments and can be contacted through the Ballyclare office.

Once again the Larne, Ballyclare and the Crumlin groups organised a local suppliers roadshow at Ballyclare Golf Club. As well as browsing the business stands many of the visitors simply enjoyed a cup of tea and a bit of craic with neighbours and friends.

The group recently ran its silage competition, sponsored by John Thompson and Sons and Ecosyl. The judge from Thompsons was Stephen Agnew from Caledon. The section winners were Bale: 1st Roger and Hilary Bell, 2nd Robin McCann and 3rd Andrew Hoy. Beef and sheep: 1st Roger and Hilary Bell 2nd Wilson Jackson and 3rd Ross Kenny. Dairy: 1st Neil and Johnny Coleman, 2nd Alan McNair and joint 3rd Michael Scott and Denis Boyd. Stephen Agnew commented that the silage was of a good standard considering the difficult season we have had. These prize winners will receive their trophies at the Ballyclare Group dinner dance.

The next date on the calendar is the president’s meeting in the Tullyglass Hotel on Tuesday 15th January, when union president Harry Sinclair and the leadership team will outline the latest developments with CAP Reform and other important farming issues.

Ross Park Hotel is the venue for the Ballyclare Group’s dinner dance on Saturday, February 2. Tickets will be available from the office nearer the time.

The February meeting takes place at Mike Fraser’s farm Steeple Road, Kells, for a tour of his farm and unique ‘Round House’ and pedigree livestock.

The final meeting is to be held at Greenmount Conference Hall on Monday 11th March – details have still to be confirmed.

This has also been an exciting time for the new staff in the Ballyclare office. Nicola Hartley gave birth to baby Jake in August this year and Carrie Anne married Andrew Ross on the 8th November and has just returned from her honeymoon.

Ian, Joyce, Adam and all the office staff would like to wish all their members and customers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.