An admin assistant with Defra, Heather Charles, 24, joined the Scottish Young Farmers movement for the busy social scene when she was 18, but since then has expanded her skills, excelled at stock-judging and enjoyed an exchange trip to Northern Ireland.
“I don’t live on a farm but I am interested in the countryside, so I get lots out of Young Farmers and regret that I missed out on the years from 14-18,” she says.
“The social life is absolutely brilliant and I’ve learned a lot, too. I can now cook and have even won prizes for my crème brûlée and stuffed peppers.”
Her two-week exchange to Northern Ireland involved touring dairy farms “until they were coming out of my ears”, attending a conference and visiting tourist attractions.
She adds: “I absolutely loved it and it has been the highlight of my time in YF so far. I met so many great folk and have lots of friends there now and we meet up at events such as the Royal Highland Show.”
Already, Heather has been secretary and treasurer of her local club, district secretary, North Area ladies chairwoman and is now vice-chairwoman of the North Area. She takes part in industrial competitions, including sewing, cooking and displays and loves stock-judging, although her first-ever attempt involved pure guesswork.
“I turned up and just put a list of letters in order, but the more you do it the better you get. Eventually I won the senior section of the famous north-east Christmas Classic, which is a massive event. I think it was a pure fluke but it certainly resulted in a massive celebration.”
Rope-making is another new ability she has picked up and she reckons that the traditional skill could come in handy. “It might be easier to go out and buy one but I’ve got ropes in the back of my car that I’ve made myself. Not many folk can say that.”