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Cumbria Young Farmers' Chief Officer Retires after 17 Years

Over 250 young farmers past and present, colleagues, friends and family of Jan Davinson gathered at Carlisle Auction Mart on Saturday 29th November to enjoy an evening of fun, laughter and tears.

The event was to thank Jan Davinson for her 17 years' service as Cumbria Young Farmers' Chief Officer and was an opportunity for all to wish Jan a happy and well earned retirement.

Jan Davinson receiving the Blamire Memorial Medal from Nick Utting

Jan Davinson receiving the Blamire Memorial Medal from Nick Utting

Keith Armer was the MC for the evening and welcomed Nick Utting who presented Jan with the prestigious Blamire Memorial Medal for her services to young farmers. Nick gave an amusing and enlightening insight into Jan's upbringing; her time at Lancaster University in the 70s, striking to obtain better wages for the University cleaners and wearing Laura Ashley dresses. Nick went on to tell those gathered about Jan's early career as Carlisle's first youth worker, employed to talk to the disaffected youth of the city and how she helped set up the Carlisle Summer Play Scheme in a mobile bus that travelled round the Cumbrian villages.

Nick gave thanks to Jan for her dedication and commitment to young farmers stating that "The time she has devoted to us, our children, and our grandchildren during her 17 years is truly astounding. She has helped create and develop many outstanding citizens for our industry and our Cumbrian Communities".

"Not only has she worked WITH our young people but she has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Cumbria YFC movement ensuring the high profile it has today, recognised with due stature alongside other similar Organisations, and being part of the Cumbria Youth Alliance which she helped create".

"Jan has never let us down. She has led and served Cumbrian Agriculture and the YFC with great loyalty and great professionalism. We are truly grateful and immensely proud of you".

There followed a poem, specially written for the occasion by Robyn Bowker of Kirklinton YFC which was very well received. Amanda Jackson (conductor) and the YFC award winning choir received a standing ovation for their medley of traditional and modern songs.

The evening continued with Frank Chester reading a personal message from James Eckley, the Chief Officer of the National Federation of Young Farmers who commended Jan on her successes including "Developing young people always at the core of your work and the front of your mind" and who gave a personal and heartfelt thank you to Jan for all the support and help he had received in her sometimes "robust" Monday morning telephone conversations.

After a fantastic meal of roast beef, of which Jan's husband commented that it was the only event he had attended where there was more meat on the table than vegetables, the entertainment continued with Will Case stock judging Jan and explaining his reasons for placing her first in competition. A very amusing round of Just a Minute followed with Craig and Mike Norman, Andrew Dodds and Richard Miller, former members of Carlisle YFC, discussing the pros and cons of Jan's retirement to much laughter from the audience.

Then followed a presentation of gifts to Jan and an opportunity for her to address all those who had gathered to wish her well. Jan entertained with accounts of officer training events where fibre glass waterfalls had been scaled and the entire bike and canoe stock of a well known local holiday venue had ended up in one of the chalets. Jan went on to thank the 17 County Chairs and Presidents, the 34 District Chairs and Presidents and the 36 Field Day Chairs and Secretaries and the many members past and present who she had the pleasure of working with.

Jan added that when she was growing up, she had wanted to be a farmers wife. Had she discovered feminism earlier, she said she would have wanted to be a farmer! At the age of 18 however, she had decided that she wanted to become a youth worker. Cumbria Young Farmers' enabled Jan to combine her two great loves for which she was eternally grateful.

Jan leading a Young Farmers' Conga

Jan leading a Young Farmers' Conga

Jan commented that the "Main highlights have been, going to meetings, having a laugh and sitting in the ballroom at the George Hotel being so proud watching Junior Speaking or Inter Brainstrust. Seeing you all grow up to be kind and useful members of your community. All the people in this room have contributed to the success of Cumbria YFC and I thank you for allowing me to be part of this wonderful community. You have been my 2nd family and I am missing you all already! "

The finale of the entertainment was a roof raising rendition of "Let It Go"  sung by Johnny Reed and Richard Hodgson with words specially adapted to Jan's term in office. Laughter filled the venue and ensured that the following disco and live entertainment provided by Rick Cropper got off to a good start with the dancing continuing long into the evening.

Jan's retirement event was organised by Suzanne Pollock, Emma Hodgson and Stacey Kane, who were thanked by Keith Armer and presented with flowers. Thanks also to; Burnetts Solicitors for their sponsorship and support of the event, Dale from DLT Marquees for transforming the Exhibition Hall, Graeme and Andrea Pollock for organising the bar and H&H Auction Mart. Thanks must also go to the many companies, organisations and individuals who donated fantastic prizes for the auction.

Cumbria YFC

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