FOLLOWING in her father’s footsteps has always been an aspiration for the now chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers, Rachel Goldie.

Her father, Alan, was at the helm, 25 years ago, so Rachel, the eldest of three sisters, recalls that much of her childhood was spent attending Young Farmers' events at club, district, county and national level, while her parents were stewards and judges.

Rachel proudly says she never missed a National Convention from a very young age as her father was chief steward at the event.

She has been enthusiastic about all that Young Farmers has to offer since she became a member herself at 12 years old, by joining the movement via her own local club, Great Smeaton.

Rachel says: “My one year as national chairman has been like no other, so different from how it might have been because of the pandemic. My aim and focus now is on minimising the closure of clubs.

“Every year, we lose some clubs across the country, but the financial burden of not being able to fundraise, to run events and hold gatherings will take its toll.

"But it also highlights in today's world the increasing importance of the Young Farmers' movement in rural areas. Sometimes Young Farmers may only leave their farms and socialise once a week when they go to a YFC meeting or event – and this last 12 months has seen enforced isolation."

Rachel has enjoyed been an active member of Young Farmers, and feels this is a prerequisite to taking the top seat. She has had roles as district secretary, became involved at Yorkshire County as soon as she could drive to meetings, has chaired the Development and Marketing Committee and has been involved on council at national level for four years. She also took part in the Young Farmers' travel programme spending four months in New Zealand in 2018.

She admits that climbing to the top was probably ‘always in her to do’ but came about by chance when nobody else stepped up to the position. So in her last year at competition age, Rachel is relishing the challenge of ‘giving back’ and gaining satisfaction in watching and helping others achieve and accomplish success within the Young Farmers' movement.

Rachel grew up on the family’s dairy farm at Danby Wiske, while excelling at dairy judging and public speaking. She has also been a member of the North Eastern Holstein Club for many years and has helped on the farm at home, while she has now put down roots near Ripon with her fiancé, Robert, where she helps with milking, lambing and calf feeding.

This has been somewhat easier recently with her Young Farmers' commitments mainly confined to Zoom meetings.

She says: “Zoom meetings and technology have certainly come into their own this last year. I don’t need four days to attend meetings at the other end of the country and, in some respects, they have made it easier to communicate and make progress, as well as helping the environment.

"As an organisation, we have tapped into a Digitalisation Grant, which is enabling us to look into online membership rather than our paper and card applications, something which came out of one of the last ‘real events’ we held last year, a Statutory Planning Day, but something that has still progressed and rolled on at national level.

"Early on during the first lockdown, we established county chairman meetings to bridge the gap between National Council and officers at county level – who needed help and guidance on furloughing staff and supporting their members. This network I am keen to continue post-pandemic.”

Perhaps some of Rachel’s manner and engagement with the role stems from her work experiences. Having studied Health and Social Care, she now works in Harrogate for Foundation UK, a charity that works with homeless 16 to 25 year olds. This is work that has a strong relevance to the people she engages with in Young Farmers – albeit it from generally different walks of life.

While she has shown unbound commitment to Young Farmers – to such an extent that she missed her younger sister's 18th birthday celebrations as she attended a council meeting at the national offices – again, the last 12 months mean that meetings are not as time-demanding.

“In conclusion, my year as national chairman of Young Farmers is perhaps different from how I’d envisaged, but I relish the chance to put young people at the centre of what I do.

"I guess you could say I thrive on helping others and gain as much from seeing others achieve as I do from being in the limelight myself."

She hopes that everyone in the ten to 26 years old bracket will consider what Young Farmers can do for them now and in the future.

She says: "As an organisation, we have to continue to refocus and modernise but we certainly have a crucial role in rural society. In 2022, we hope to bring some sort of event to all members nationwide.”