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Spotlight on the valuable work performed by Young Farmers

Article by ffinlo Costain - 2007

DURING an interview for Manx Radio's Perspective programme the Home Affairs Minister, Martyn Quayle, praised the Young Farmers movement for providing teenagers with constructive activities that helped build 'character and potential'.

The programme is part of my current radio series where 16 and 17 year olds, who got the right to vote for the first time last year, debate some of the issues raised during the election. During each show young people get the chance to interview the minister responsible for the issue they're debating.

In this Thursday's programme (which airs just after 6pm) Castle Rushen High School students debate Yob Culture. CRHS student Sam Chappell asked Mr Quayle about the Community Satisfaction Survey taken by Isle of Man Constabulary, which shows teenage and youth crime as the second most experienced crime on the Island. She asked the Minister, 'Is this because of the lack of entertainment for young people?'

Mr Quayle did not agree that Island youngsters had little to do. 'I grew up living on a farm and joined the local Young Farmers clubs. It was a terrific avenue for young people whether they were from a farm or not. The Young Farmers had a terrific amount of activities, so certainly for my own part I thought that one of the best things anybody could ever do was to join the Young Farmers. There are a great range of benefits at the clubs which actually develop character and potential.'

I asked Ray Craine, Chairman of the Southern branch of the Manx NFU, if the Young Farmers helped to keep teenagers off the streets? He said, 'Young Farmers is a great way of meeting like-minded young people,' and was quick to point out that many MHKs had started their lives of service in the Young Farmers movement. 'Not just Martyn, but Noel Cringle, the President of Tynwald, and Miles Walker, a former Chief Minister, too. At one time there were nine MHKs who'd started out in the Young Farmers."

Mr Craine is also the concert advisor to the Southern Young Farmers group, which has won the cup for Best Performance at the Young Farmers Concert for the last three years in a row.

'The concerts are incredibly popular, with more than 200 young people performing on stage at the Gaiety each year. We're lucky to have four really strong clubs here. This gives young people a very active community across the Island.'

Angela Taggart is the Secretary of the Isle of Man Federation of Young Farmers. She believes the groups 'provide one of the strongest communities for young people in the Isle of Man. People join to have a good time and to make new friends, but we do loads of stuff like competitions on and off the Island, public speaking, sheep shearing, netball, and football. It's a chance for young people to broaden their horizons. The clubs give young people things to be proud of so that they can be more confident around older people it helps prepare members for work or university life too.'

At the end of his interview Mr Quayle reminded the Castle Rushen High School students that 'anyone is welcome to join the young farmers.'