Profile: Farm Woman of the Year 2016

Posted on Jul 27 2016 - 11:00am by Samantha Clark

Inspired at The Bath and West Show, we talked to Gillian Dosson who won this year’s Farm Woman of the Year award about what it means to be a part of this prolific society and winner of this coveted award.

It was a complete surprise to receive a letter from Paul Hooper OBE, the Society Secretary of The Royal Bath & West Show with information of a nomination for the farm woman of the year competition.

It is due to Somerset Federation of Young Farmers Clubs and the work entailed within this organisation that this was awarded. It is very pleasing that recognition and profile can be raised for this rural group of young people. It’s not all drinking and parties, there is so much more that Young Farmers accomplish. For the past five years Somerset YFC clubs and members have raised in excess of £30,000 annually between them. They then distribute this to their chosen charities within their local community. Being a part of the YFC includes involvement within the community, they enjoy participating in coordinating events at the local village hall or pub, playing rounder’s in the park/sports field, taking part in fetes, helping at festivals and carnivals. Once members have been through the YFC system of holding roles and taking responsibilities of running a club, they will have gained excellent life skills and it aids in building confidence. With the attributes gained, members can go on and help shape the communities they live in. This is what we aspire in our members to go on and do and to achieve success, not only within YFC but outside of it too.  At the time they may not realise what they are achieving, especially during tough times in their clubs.  But time is precious and members are 26 before they know it.  We don’t want members to regret not becoming more involved and this is the message we strive to get across to them.  We hope that our passion for YFC is shared by all our members.

This is why working within the YFC office is fulfilling. We may nurture and cajole members into doing roles and competitions they are reluctant to do at the time, but afterwards they are proud and thankful for what they have achieved. The position of Membership, Finance & Office Manager starts with the membership renewals. This is a favourite task of mine to record data and post out membership cards to all 970 of our members. The membership card is a golden key and vital access to many events.  There is always a scurry to get them distributed prior to the annual county ball or Cheltenham countryside day in November- some of our highly anticipated events. Work more often than not comes home where evenings and weekends are utilised well! It can sometimes be difficult to remain on top of your work with so many varieties of communication available to members. Requests for membership cards and numbers can be received via email, Facebook, messenger and texts any time of day or night. Members are always thankful and appreciate any help.  They are a pleasure to work with.

There’s also the regular office duties such as banking, raising invoices associated with membership fees, insurance, competitions and the like. Hiring’s of the Old School Hall in Westonzoyland requires managing and we are also home to The Pre School Learning Alliance and Ups and Downs South West. Local clubs such as Slimming World, Toddlers and Fitness also make use of the facilities.  YF Clubs run and manage themselves largely with the assistance of Club Presidents and Advisory committees, many whom would have been members of the Federation themselves!  Governance of clubs falls within our responsibility in the YFC office; constitutions, efficient meetings, club officers with DBS clearance, charity commission returns, behaviour policies, training and health & safety is encouraged and monitored.  County meetings for finances, field officers, and members council and sub committees are frequent as they should be.

County events such as the Federation AGM, County Ball, Harvest Service, competitions day, sports tournaments, The County Rally, Royal Bath & West Show YFC marquee are planned, run and reported on! Each year is different with new scenarios and situations that can arise from these events so each take meticulous planning and you’re never too old to learn! One of the heaviest responsibilities undertaken to date was the hosting of the South West area weekend in Weston super Mare, March 2015 for members from across the South West.  One of the biggest concerns is making sure that all the 1,500 members have enjoyed it and had a good time.  In addition to this event, we coordinated two evening dances, a day full of competitions, an agricultural forum, pantomime and sports day, there was plenty to do, but Somerset YFC made a great job of it! We look forward to returning to Weston in 2018.  The support from our Field Officers, President & Vice Presidents and of course the parents of members make all this happen.  Somerset YFC is in great hands!

Having farming and a young farmer’s pedigree is certainly beneficial to the role.  Aside from YFC office work a good balance can be struck with family life and helping out on the farm.

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