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Gayle's reward for hard work.

The Northumberland Young Farmers' Club rally is being held in Haltwhistle this year on June 4. The Journal has been talking to those in charge of the 11 clubs in the county. This week Hayley Beattie talks to Gayle Hodgson, of the Shaftoe club.

Chairman of Shaftoe Young Farmers' Club in Haydon Bridge Gayle Hodgson was given the award for the best member of a club last year for the hard work she has done in the county.

Gayle 22, was jointly presented with the award by Northumberland County of Young Farmers along with Sarah Spark, of the Whitley Chapel group.

The award was given for her work as county competition secretary last year. She was responsible for organising a number of competitions throughout the county, including sports events and fun days for junior members.

She was also commended for her enthusiasm and positive work within the Shaftoe group.

She says: "I was delighted to win the award. My year as competition secretary was very hard but really enjoyable and I hope that my work will come across positively to the younger members."

Gayle joined the group when she 14 and has been chairman for the last two years.

In recent years the group has seen member numbers drop to 14. But the club organises regular new members' nights to try and increase this. The youngest member is 12 and the oldest is 24.

She says one of the main things which has affected member numbers is the amount of paperwork and red tape which now has to be gone through. "There is now a lot of health and safety regulations which need to be looked at and child protection issues. I think a lot of the fun has been taken out of what we are trying to do.

"We are a small club and we try our best to get members involved in activities."

The group meet every Wednesday night and organise a number of trips, including go-karting and 10 pin bowling.

Members are looking forward to the rally in Haltwhistle but Gayle says that as a small group they do find it difficult to enter all the competitions. "This is something I am bringing up at the moment, because I do feel the rally is aimed more at the larger groups which makes it harder for the smaller groups to compete," she said. "Having said that, we are entering all the competitions, of which there are more than 60, and it would be nice to come away with something.

"It's going to be a very busy day as I will have to look after all the members."

Gayle hopes there is a future for young farmers clubs, adding that without it she would not be where she is today. In January she set up her own child care business, Little Badgers, which she runs from her home on North Road in Haydon Bridge, and says the skills she has learned in the club gave her the confidence to set out on her own.

"I have developed life-long skills in my time in young farmers. It's fun and educational."

Shaftoe celebrated its 50th anniversary last year with a ball at Hexham Auction Mart.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 7, 2005
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