Farmer columnist and Managing Director of Farmer Network, Adam Day, appeals for new home for Cumbria YFC

SADLY, it is game over. Newton Rigg College has gone for good.

All of the meetings, steering groups, letters written, and impassioned pleadings came to nothing.

We all tried and we probably all believed someone, somehow, would have the ability, the power, and the wherewithal to save the college and take it forward for the next generation.

In the end, nobody could. It feels like a stitch- up and a death in the family.

The Farmer Network and Cumbria Young Farmers are a small part of the collateral damage. We’re on notice to vacate our Newton Rigg offices by the end of July, “Remove your stuff, hand in the keys and get gone”.

I feel particularly sorry for the YFC team. This is such a vital charity without any assets, that over the generations has delivered so much to young people joining our industry in its many guises.

Young Farmers Clubs educate in many ways. Apart from practical knowledge, YFC delivers lessons in commitment, team play, good- manners and discipline.

The shy are encouraged and given confidence to develop skill sets and a positive attitude that will help them in later life. And of course, there is the much- vaunted social life which has been sadly missing over the last year.

My first Northern District field day was in 1982 at Hunday farm, Workington. I was 17 and a proud member of Greysouthen YFC, arch-rivals to our near neighbours Lamplugh.

Ably assisted by my beautiful assistants Tracey and Judith (surnames undisclosed to save embarrassment), we won the Magicians competition. Young Farmers isn’t all just “Yows and Cows”. I think it was the fishnet stockings that did it!

Later that night we enjoyed the legendary field day dance. Mother warned me not to “get into any trouble”.

Before darkness had even fallen a huge “all- in” scrap started on the dance floor with me and my pals Bill Fawkes, and Thompson Trafford right in the middle, absolutely not through choice. Ah the days!

I have many happy memories of Young Farmers socials including my first ever visit to Moota nightclub aged 16. I was riding shot gun with Mark and Alan Clark, from the farms down the road, both of whom were 10 years older than me. Having promised my mother faithfully that I would not imbibe, I was somewhat bemused to find a pint of Jennings finest bitter placed in front of me at the Black Cock Inn, Eaglesfield, our local pub. “Get that down Lad” said Alan Clark with a wink. “Your round next”! In that moment I entered a new phase of my life.

Joking aside, the benefit that Young Farmers Clubs and for that matter Newton Rigg College have delivered to the farming communities of Cumbria and beyond, is immeasurable and clearly little understood outside our circle.

That we are in this position now, speaks volumes. I can only hope that the Farmer Network and Cumbria YFC find new homes in the near future.To lose our Young Farmers movement in Cumbria would just about be the biggest tragedy of all.

n “I have spent 30 years working as a Land Agent and Auctioneer throughout Cumbria and beyond. I still enjoy auctioneering on a freelance basis, mostly at Penrith Mart, where I first started my career many years ago.

I Joined the Farmer Network in 2015 initially working three days per week but now working four days per week. I am involved in all facets of the Network working closely with the Board of Directors and the Management Council’s to ensure that the Network is delivering what members want and need. A priority in my role has been to raise awareness of the Farmer Network and increase membership. In doing so we have been able improve income streams and project funding.The Farmer Network is a sustainable business model and well placed to continue providing a range of services and support for farmers, their families and their businesses going forward.