Kim reflects on her year

Kim reflects on her year

When I took over the role of National Chair this time last year I never could have imagined that we would all be sitting at home and we would be having this years national AGM over Zoom. However, we are where we are and I have been extremely impressed with all the regions’ willingness to continue on as normally as possible, all the excellent social media coverage that our clubs have been getting and the ingenious ideas that clubs and districts have been coming up with to hold different meetings over social media, zoom and the likes. I would just like to take this opportunity to wish everyone well, and I hope that everyone is managing to stay safe.

Whilst we are coming to terms with our new way of life, I would like to share some of my highlights from the previous year – when things were a bit more normal!

Back in June last year we of course celebrated the highland show. This is the highlight of many peoples farming calendar, and it is no different for me! It goes past in a flash however meeting countless members of the public in the young farmers centre and out and about, hosting a number of receptions and of course the prize giving on the Saturday afternoon in the MacRobert Theatre – all things I’ll never forget.

In August, myself, Gemma and 3 other young farmers headed down to Cirencester for a week to attend the European Rally. Everyone worked together to make a campaign for their countries youth organisation around the subject of mental health. Our Are Ewe Okay? campaign stood us in good stead for the week, and we worked on where we can take it. Of course a big part of the rally is getting to know other countries over a few wines. I’ve been on rally to Northern Ireland, I’ve helped when it was in Scotland last year and this year I went to England. Every rally is different, however each one is fantastic in its own way. From the people you meet, to the experiences you have. I really cannot recommend it enough and I would encourage everyone to think about applying for it in the future.

The following week Gemma, Ewan, Andrew, Hazel and myself took part in the Great Glen Challenge which saw us bike, kayak, walk and run various stages between Fort William and Fort Augustus whilst raising money for RSABI. I think it rained from the minute Gemma set off on her bike, to the minute that Andrew ran over the finish line…it was a truly miserable day, however we all finished with spirits high.

So with highs also comes some lows I’m afraid, and the Coronavirus situation has only added to this. This year the national organisation is set to make a big financial loss. This is due to a number of factors but the main reason is the drop in membership. Over the past 2 years we have had a drop of approx 700 members, which translates to a drop in membership fees of £33,000. Bearing in mind we only have around 3000 members this is obviously a huge amount, and we really need to stop the downward trend. We want to speak to the grass root members to find out what it is that has caused this drop, and whilst our original plans have had to be postponed – this is definitely something we will want to discuss further in the future.

Now, as my year as chair comes to an end I must reflect on not only last year, but my time as a whole within young farmers. When I look back at when I was a wee 14 year old, never could I have imagined all the places I would travel through young farmers, or even half the people that I would be fortunate enough to meet. I’ve tried to take up as much opportunities as possible from travelling to Montana, I’ve been invited to awards ceremonies, I’ve represented Scotland at two European Rallies and the list goes on. But the thing I’ll cherish the most is the friendships I have made along the way. Now, thanks to SAYFC I not only have friends from all over Scotland but from all over the 5 Nations and further afield, and I wouldn’t have met these people if I hadn’t gone for these opportunities. So please grab every opportunity you get with both hands.

Finally, my year as National Chair certainly would not have ran as it did without the help of a lot of individuals. To all of National Council, I want to thank each and every one of you for giving me this opportunity and for everything that you have done for the association over the last year. To all the staff at SAYFC, thank you for all your hard work and dedication that you have put in over the past year. To David, thank you for encouraging me in to the role, for believing in me (especially after my wee hiccup last year) and for supporting me throughout this year. To Rory, for putting up with me getting home at one in the morning, for agreeing to be my car buddy on my epic road trip from Stranraer to Orkney and everything else in between. Finally, to Gemma – you’ve not only been my vice-chair but you’ve been a brilliant friend for many years and I wish you all the success in the future. You’ve been an absolutely fantastic vice for me – and I’ll be here right behind you next year.

I would just like to finish off by wishing the new National Council all the very best for next year, and to thank the retiring committee for all your hard work over the past year. It’s not going to be a normal year, that’s for sure, but I’m confident that with everyones enthusiasm and dedication that you have shown so far, we will get through this completely unheard of times and hopefully we will get back to some form normality in the coming months.