Young Farmers' Clubs aim to bounce back after Covid
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
THE dale’s young farmers’ clubs are hoping to meet face-to-face for the first time in 18 months this September.
The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in Barnard Castle Young Farmers’ Club experiencing a slump in membership.
However, the decline in numbers at Staindrop’s club has been less pronounced as members have continued to meet online and take part in virtual competitions organised by the County Durham Federation of Young Farmers.
Megan Souter, of the Barney group, said it was uncertain how many members they had lost, as some have also gone on to college or university.
She said: “We are hoping we can recover members.
“We were just starting to thrive and our numbers were growing when Covid hit.
“We were getting a lot of junior members between the ages of 11 and 16, so it hit at a bad time.
“There has definitely been a decline in numbers but we don’t really know [by how many].”
The club has yet to meet, but its members are considering holding a stall at Eggleston Show on September 18.
Ms Souter said: “It is one of our main fundraisers but it is difficult to organise at this time of year because everyone is so busy.”
Fortunes have been better for the Staindrop group which prior to the pandemic met once a fortnight.
The club’s Joanna Herbert said: “We have conducted meetings online, but not as regularly as we would meet in person. We have carried on throughout, particularly in the later part of lockdown.
“We still had a drop in membership numbers, but we have new people interested in joining.
“The interest seems to be with juniors or their parents wanting to bring them along to a meeting.”
She added that the club had ruled out resuming regular meetings when restrictions were lifted because of the high number of school aged children who were being forced to self-isolate.
She said it was not worth the risk of older members having to miss work because they had been in contact with school going members.