Bleary YFC celebrates 80 years

BLEARY Young Farmers' Club celebrates its 80th anniversary this week with a dinner dance in Brownlow House on Saturday.

Exactly 80 years ago a meeting was held in Gibson’s Hill Orange Hall, under the guidance of Mr Andrew Gilchrist on Thursday, February 6, 1930.

At the first meeting guest speaker Mr Dick Limber the organiser of the YFCU, was to have a significant contribution and a unanimous decision was agreed.

Andrew Gilchrist was elected Club Leader, while Mr Gilpin became the first club chairman and members consisted of Mr M Humphries, Ringer Hewitt, G McCaw, J McCormick and V Harper.

Bleary YFC is the fifth oldest club and the second oldest active working club in all of Ulster.

Little other information still exists from the club's early years and by the Second World War the club appears to have diminished.

With a need again for rural youth in 1962, Bleary YFC was reborn. The first meetings were held in Bleary Old Schoolhouse, now Knocknamuckley Parish Hall.

Mr George Chambers was elected Club Leader, while the duties of Secretary and Treasurer were respectively entrusted to Miss Doreen Uprichard and Miss Mary Morrow.

Dr McNabb was elected Patron of the Bleary club and served in this capacity for many years.

The club ran successfully for many years and became famous in the arts with many three act plays, barbecues, a close involvement with the Lurgan Show and raft races on the park lake.

During the 1960s, Bleary Farmers’ Hall was created and has continued to serve the needs of the YFC and the community ever since.

They had a few difficult years in terms of membership at the turn of the millennium. The club was reformed in August 2004. After the first meeting, the duty of club leader was assigned to Miss Julie Menaul, while the position of Treasurer was appointed to Mr William McCracken and Secretary, Miss Helen Robinson.

Former member Noelle Menaul was elected Club President.

The Young Farmers' Club is regarded as one of the oldest rural youth organisations in the British Isles.

Overall Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster have a membership of nearly 2,500 members of which Bleary has 40.

Under the motto ‘Better Farmers, Better Countrymen, Better Citizens’, clubs are encouraged to promote members’ creativity, achieved through educational programmes and competitions.

To this day, simple tasks such as home-making, flower-arranging and craftwork still continue in the hope of encouraging young female members to join the organisation. Over the past number of decades drama, public speaking and group debating competitions have became an integral part of the YFCU’s calendar.

Contests in farm management, silage-making and machinery handling have developed the young people’s practical abilities but clubs are no longer associated solely with agriculture.

Every avenue and activity is explored from go-karting, tag rugby, football, tug-of-war and the arts.

From humble beginnings 80 years ago the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster still maintain much of their vibrancy.

There are around 50 active clubs in the province, they are strictly non-political, non-sectarian and are open to anyone between the ages of 12 and 25. Their only prerequisite for membership is an interest in rural life.

Young Farmers Clubs are run by young people, for young people, and will always be a keystone of the rural community.

The club's organisers have established a busy calendar of events for the coming year. The next meeting for the club will be held this Friday in the farmers’ hall.

Theme for the evening will be the work of Bothar, a charity involved with ‘helping people to help themselves’. As part of the 80th anniversary celebrations, a collection is running to purchase 80 goats for 80 years.

Following the talk, the annual general meeting of the club will be held with invited Chairperson Rachel Dougan, Newtownhamilton, in attendance.

For further information or to join the club visit or contact the Secretary, Nicola on 078 3538 8332.