Machinery dealers in Devon came up trumps when they provided tractors and diesel for Seale Hayne students to use for their Rag 99 inter-course challenge. The event was started by Alan Hope – Mayor of Ashburton (and chairman of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party). The tractor teams travelled between 45 and 110 miles collecting money by selling the rag mag as they went. They raised £784.50 for seven chosen charities.
Bellingham YFC has raised £3000 for the Bone Marrow Transplant 2000 at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle on Tyne. The money was raised from raffles, local businesses and from a sponsored 9 mile fell walk undertaken by 23 members. It will be used to improve facilities for patients following chemotherapy treatment.
Berwick YFC was glad for a spell of dry weather that allowed them to make a start on a mountain of muck which they spent the weekend spreading to raise £500 for Air Ambulance. The club, which meets on Wednesdays, is keen to encourage more female members. "Its not all men and tractors, we have some girl members but we would welcome some more," says Club Chairman Stephen Robson.
Outside in the kennels a noisy welcome awaits strangers. "They are a tough breed. We love them but pampering show dogs does not pay off. They just lose all their character."
The Crufts show team includes the black and tan Bisto, his litter sister – the red coated Marmite – and the red 14-month-old youngster Joseph. These three young stars have already won well in hotly contested breed classes at some of the countrys major championship dog shows.
"Over the last year we have driven more miles than we have ever done before," admits Miss Garlick who reckons these three are the best Dachshunds she has bred so far.
"Showing dogs is a great hobby but the dogs come first. Showing is just an excuse to keep them although my father says showing dogs gives you licence to become a canine kleptomaniac."
To ensure that only the best dogs are exhibited at Crufts the Kennel Club enforces qualifying wins for all entries. The three Ranglewood hounds have all qualified but Miss Garlick says you have to keep Crufts in context.
"Yes it is the most famous dog show in the world but you have to keep it in perspective. If you let it get to you by the time you walk into the ring you would be a nervous wreck. It really is just another show. Well, thats what I keep telling myself."
Although its a critical time on the farm in the run-up to lambing, recent weeks have seen Miss Garlick preparing the show team for the bright lights of the NEC. The dogs have been walked daily for overall fitness and to build up muscle tone. The long-haired Dachshund coat is self-cleaning and mud is easily removed by brushing. But to ensure coats retain their important oils to give that extra sheen for Crufts, they are treated each day with a special coat conditioner.
Dachshunds are greedy and these are no exception. A strict 6-9oz a day of a complete diet keeps them in top form.
"Apart from that, a bath the day before and some judicial trimming of the hair between the toes and thats it. They are a relatively easy dog to get ready for the ring."
Shes pinning her hopes for Crufts on the promising young Bisto whose sire, from the breeds top kennel, was a multiple winner at the show. And in the week after Crufts there will be plenty to do at Windy Bottom Farm. Lambing is still a few weeks away but first there are two eagerly anticipated litters of puppies due.
"But thats dog showing. Always looking ahead. If we dont win at this years Crufts who knows what surprises we might have in store with our next generation."
• Crufts takes place at the NEC in Birmingham between Mar 11 and Mar 14.
Youngsters give lift to MS centre
LIFE is a little easier for staff and patients at Chilton Multiple Sclerosis Society Centre, Halton, Bucks, thanks to the efforts of Aylesbury YFC. Senior members have cycled, danced and worked hard to raise £3,000 to provide a hoist to help staff lift patients more safely between beds, floors and exercise mats.
• WIVELSFIELD Green YFC is looking for fun
loving friendly people between 10 and 26 to become members of this Sussex club. They promise an exciting social life and weekly meetings. To see whats on offer go along to the open evening on Mar 10 at Wivelsfield Green village hall. Telephone Rob (01444 471830) or Debbie (01273 495259) for details, or just turn
up at 7.30pm.
• THE Wessex group of young farmers – Crewkerne, Ilminster, Langport, Sparkford, Wincanton and Yeovil, is hosting this years Somerset Young Farmers annual Rally. They plan
to make it an event to remember and expect around 1500 visitors to High Winds Farm, Holton, near Wincanton on Saturday May 8.
Midwife delivers a dose of realism to the SAYFC
WHEN Alison Logan, the chairman of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, spoke to the membership at her first annual general meeting as chairman, in October 1997, she blasted, with both barrels, the sector of the SAYFC membership she described as "riddled with apathy, bad attitude and disillusionment".
Those who moaned about the association affiliation fees were singled out for special attention After listing the benefits of membership, she asked: "Is this worth 38p a week? If the answer is no then this organisation is not for you!"
A couple of months later, at the West Region annual conference, Alison warned delegates that the SAYFC was "in danger of rotting from within because of the negativity of some members".
Adding fuel to Alisons justification for such straight talking was that as national chairman she inherited a deficit of £18,000 for the SAYFCs 1996/97 financial year. The following year that deficit, thanks to restructuring and moves including staff changes and the reduction of national council numbers, had changed into a surplus of £10,000.
"Im not in the job to be popular," said Alison. "Im in it to help provide a secure and prosperous future for the SAYFC.
Alison may not have courted popularity as she continued in her quest to persuade her 3500 members to unite and pull together for the good of the association and themselves. However, it seems that her words must have drawn respect for in May 1998 she made history when she was unanimously re-elected as chairman of the SAYFC, making her the first person to take on this role for a second term.
Alison is a midwife at Simpsons Memorial Maternity Pavilion, delivering babies and gently helping new mothers deal with the demands of motherhood.
* Labour ward
Alison alternates between the ante-natal clinic, with daily hours and the labour ward which calls for 13 shifts/month. "The labour ward hours enable me to give a lot more time to the young farmers," said Alison. "The shifts give me an extra free week a month, whereas when I am working in the ante-natal clinic, the YFC office is closed by the time I finish work."
So just how much time does the role of chairman demand from somebody who already has a full-time job?
"Between five and 70 hours a week, the 70-hour weeks are leading up to the Royal Highland Show, and Im obviously on holiday then, in fact I arrange my holidays around the YFC times," said Alison.
Alison lives in a cottage on the family farm at Rosewall, Midlothian, and the easy access to parental views and experience is valuable – Alisons father, Malcolm, is a past SAYFC chairman. He was also president in the late 1980s. Membership was then at its peak of around 10,000. "Even so," says Malcolm, "the sort of problems Alison has to face now are much the same as they were in my day – in particular moans about fees."
"One of the biggest changes Ive seen is the drop in demand for agricultural education items within club programmes," added Malcolm. "These days there seems to be less emphasis on pure agriculture and more on the social side of things."
His daughter is keen to promote the social side. "Some-times we have to remind the members about the fun side, they can get a bit too serious, especially at national and regional level," said Alison.
Nevertheless, the BSE crisis has helped to galvanise the political views of young Scottish farmers. "It has made them recognise that their futures cannot be relied upon to be as secure as they once presumed," explained Alison.
This increased political awareness has helped to forge strong and improved links with the National Farmers Union of Scotland. 1998 saw a member co-opted to the SNFU council as an observer as well as individual members on the pigs, livestock and cereal commodity committee.
Having taken on the national chairmanship for two years and overseen major changes within the organisation, Alison is not keen to follow things through for a third year and plans to hand over the chair in May.
"Looking back, I admit that I came into the job with a view to break moulds, I saw areas where a shake up was needed. I certainly didnt set out to make a name for myself, but I was frustrated to see lost opportunities.
"I would like the Young Farmers to appreciate that it is an organisation where the only limit is the membership imagination," she said.