2021: A Year in Review

2021: A Year in Review

A look back on 2021 from National Chair, Katie Burns.

Goodbye 2021! It’s not news to anyone what a strange and difficult 2 years it’s been. SAYFC is a membership organisation built on regular group activities, meetings and competitions, adjusting to life with covid and keeping members engaged was no easy task. But I think you’ll all agree the members rose to the occasion showing great resilience and creativity; from TikTok & step challenges, Isolympic games to Duck & Balloon races and not to forget Bankfoot’s Flamingos! This is something both Gemma Bruce, past SAYFC Chair, and myself have been very proud to see the past 2 years.

Katie Burns- National Chair


2021 really had to be the year SAYFC were back IN action IN person but starting January with another lockdown meant Member of the Year & Club of the Year competitions had to be held online – if only we knew to buy shares in Zoom back in 2019. In April we had the privilege of an extra special message from His Royal Highness Prince Charles the Duke of Rothesay congratulating the tenacity of which the organisation has tackled the pandemic and calling the ‘huge dedication’ of the officials and volunteers inspiring.


June saw us back at the Young Farmers Centre for a very different Highland Show. The Royal Highland Showcase was a great chance for SAYFC to work closely with RHASS, interviewing various members as well as other organisations in different corners of the showground. We even managed to hold the Young Farmer of the Year 2020 final with the winner announced live on the RHS closing programme.


July brought with it some freedom and travelling with East, West, Highland & Grampian Rallies followed by SAYFC’s Super Saturday. There was sunshine and plenty of competitions so it’s safe to say they were all a success with National Handicrafts having an overwhelming number of entries.


Now this really was the starter block for SAYFC getting back into action and I’m really pleased to say the past 6 months have been very busy. With many of the usual Young Farmers events back up and running, it was also great to see the North Region holding Sheep dog Trials for the first time. After giving clubs and districts a few months to get going, it was time to get the National Competitions up and running again with Prime Lamb Dressing held at LiveScot, Clay Pigeon Shoot, Foursomes, Junior Speechmaking & Junior Quiz also taking place.


December saw the return of the Rural and Agri Affairs Conference with the theme ‘Selling Scotland’ and over 80 delegates in Edinburgh for the weekend. The event began with dinner and a panel night at Craigies Farm Shop on the Friday night followed by Saturday morning Farm tours before breakout sessions and a panel question and answer session. On Saturday night SAYFC held their first ever Five Star Awards in the new Royal Highland Pavilion. This was a night to recognise and celebrate the amazing achievements of our members with awards such as Farm Safety Award, Club Ambassador, Community Engagement, Unsung Hero and the Young Farmer of the Year 2021. I would like to congratulate our winners and all nominees and also thank everyone who supported this event, and all who worked tirelessly to ensure the night was a massive success.


The pandemic may have brought uncertainty and various challenges however it also provided an opportunity to reflect and review the organisation. As you may already know, in April we introduced a new structure setting up 6 new committees. Come July we were able to get these committees together in person for training and bonding which was a great success. The work they’ve managed to do has been brilliant and includes introducing a 6 week office bearer training programme, training a number of Farm Safety Ambassadors in each region, setting up a Secretaries forum & weekend away, holding two Junior Jaunts and working alongside the International & Ingliston trusts to provide a Covid Development Fund to help support the clubs. I must take this opportunity to thank the International, Ingliston, Willie Davidson and Ellen Kerr trusts for their continued support over many years, and especially the past two.


Now as we reach the end of the year with rising cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Scotland and following the First Ministers new guidance regarding social mixing, unfortunately SAYFC took the difficult decision to strongly recommend that clubs review and consider the suspension of social events between Friday 17th December to Monday 3rd January.

This is disheartening to many and I, for one, am gutted, but we have taken this difficult decision in line with Government guidance as a precaution and in the hope that acting now will reduce cases and ensure the return of many missed and much loved Young Farmers events in the New Year such as concerts, conferences, cabarets etc.

Now the last few years have tested us all in many ways and I am incredibly proud of the resilience and ability to adapt our members have shown individually and as clubs, districts, regions and as an organisation. With challenge comes growth and I believe we’ve achieved more the past year than we ever imagined we could. And we aren’t done yet!


As we step in 2022 – the year of youth – we do so in the knowledge that SAYFC is a truly wonderful community of likeminded young people with the passion and resilience to handle anything the new year brings. There may be uncertainty and challenges ahead but there are also be brighter days coming and we will adapt and overcome together. I encourage you all to take on all the amazing opportunities that the organisation offers and I look forward to seeing the organisation continue to go from strength to strength, and I hope that you will all be here supporting in years to come.

On behalf of all at SAYFC I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. Please stay safe, sane and sensible and I hope to see you all at an event in the very near future. We have many exciting things to look forward to in 2022!