YOUNG Farmers clubs and their members know how difficult it can be to maintain funding. Funding for events, resources, or even for them simply to regularly hold their club meetings is something that is constantly on the minds of committees, so anything that can be done to help, is more than welcome.

There are several charitable funds that clubs can apply to for funding, but one with a special connection to the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, is the Willie Davidson 75th Anniversary Fund.

Set up in the wake of the tragic death of SAYFC stalwart Willie Davidson six years ago, the fund is open to applications from any club or district affiliated to SAYFC, any club in the process of forming, or to an individual SAYFC member whose application will benefit the wider SAYFC community.

Applications can be received for anything from material goods through to training and travel.

Members of the funds committee met with The Scottish Farmer to promote what they are doing, and to generally just try and make people more aware of how they can utilise the Fund.

“We need clubs to understand not only that we are here to help them, but also what their applications should be for. We’re getting more and more that meet our criteria, and that are being accepted, but the more, the merrier,” explained chairman of the funds committee, Hugh Galloway.

“We like to help existing clubs through promotion and training.

“We’re also keen to help with the establishment of new clubs and resurrect old ones that have maybe fallen by the wayside.

“We’ve given funding for things like stands and banners for clubs to take to local shows, and we were able to help Ayrshire as a district to help build the new Arran club.

Hugh continued: “Training courses are something we are really keen on helping with, though. If we can help members learn something that they can they implement in their lives or work, then that’s fantastic.”

Willie Davidson was Young Farmers through and through. From the age of 14, right up until his death, he was as involved in the Association as he could be.

He joined his local club, Annandale, becoming their chairman, before he was Dumfries and Galloway chairman, before then going even higher up as the vice-president of the SAYFC.

He was also an active director of the RHASS, and was a ‘well kent’ face at the Royal Highland Show every June.

He was also passionate about his Saler cattle, a breed he entered into after Foot and Mouth Disease, and that he soon became prominent in, winning numerous red tickets on the summer show circuit, and even taking his team to the Highland.

Willie, who farmed at Poldean, near Moffat also hosted industry events like ScotSheep, with his family and during the harrowing period of FMD, even after his own struggles, he was on hand to help others through the experience, whether on a one-to-one basis, or as a ‘face’ for the wider media, that your every day farmer could relate to.

Television cameras actually followed Willie throughout his experience of the disease, showing the wider public what him, his family, and his peers were going through.

Hugh explained: “He sat on a committee that was aimed at helping other farmers to get over FMD, and that really sums Willie up, so after he died, we began thinking about how we could carry on his legacy and continue to help young people in agriculture.

“When Willie was killed, it was a wake up call. A wake up call to ourselves, but also to the wider industry.

“SAYFC wanted to do something to recognise his contribution to the Association, so it was decided that the Willie Davidson 75th Anniversary Fund would be set up in his memory.”

Fund trustee Sandy Wilkie continued: “Around 2012-13, we started trying to raise funds. We set a target of a six figure sum that was to be raised before opening the fund to applicants, and once that happened, everything really kicked off in 2014.”

The initial sum that was raised for the fund was invested in a portfolio of shares, which brings in thousands of pounds each year, so the fund does have a steady cashflow in that respect.

The whole aim of the fund is to aid in the education and training of young people in the SAYFC.

Sandy continued: “The Fund has really broad aims and objectives, but health and safety-based things to give funding to are very important to us.

“We’ve already funded a welding course, and it was excellent.

“We also really advocate things that Willie would have appreciated. He was such a stickler for things being right, and done properly, so if we can fund things that can help YF’s in that respect, that would be brilliant.

“The circumstances of Willies death have meant that we, as a committee, have always been keen on the idea that some of the fund be aimed at helping to promote farm safety”, continued Sandy.

“It also helps with activities and recreation, and it has even been used to help clubs create a personal development programme.”

The Willie Davidson 75th Anniversary Fund committee meet three times a year, and the deadlines to have applications in for each meeting are six weeks prior to this meetings taking place on April 1, September 1 and December 1.

Applicants will then have to make their case and give background to what their asking for before it is discussed by the committee.

Committee members admit that there was perhaps some uncertainty as to how to carry out the process in the early stages, but that more and more applications are coming in now that clubs understand the specifics, and how the process is laid out.

One stipulation is though, that clubs must not have already purchased what they are applying for funding for – that must only be done once funding is granted.

As well as this, the committee are open about what they won’t grant funding for, namely things like club tops, rugby shirts or hoodies for members, or for travel.

There are three permanent members on the board of the Fund – all of whom knew Willie – and there will always be a member of the Davidson family as well, with his wife Jennifer currently in that role. As well as this, there is also a representative from each of the three SAYFC regions.

Jennifer Davidson has also been very involved in the Young Farmers, so the Association became a real family affair for the Davidsons. Together, Willie and Jennifer have three kids, Jan, Alister and Jennifer.

Another Fund trustee, June Geyer explained why she thinks what the Fund is doing would be right up Willie’s street. She said: “Willie was a lovely man, who always went out of his way to help people, especially in the Young Farmers, so if we can give something back in his legacy, then I think he would be really appreciative of that.

“We want submissions to be for various things, but applications should meet one or more of the following objectives; to advance the education and training of young people within the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs in agriculture, country life, home craft, citizenship skills and related subjects; to provide assistance to help promote and develop farm safety initiatives through increased awareness; to provide and promote the provision of facilities and activities for recreation and other leisure time occupations, which will advance their personal development as responsible individuals and active citizens, and to provide assistance to prospective new clubs being formed, and the continuous encouragement and development of existing clubs.

“They’re our set objectives”, explained June.

When funding is awarded, it is likely to be a contribution to the cost not the full sum, so the committee encourages applicants to consider how they might raise the outstanding balance before applying.

They would also like it to be noted that applications that do not include quotes to support the budgeted costs may be rejected, and applications will be reviewed on a case by case basis by a panel of past and current SAYFC members representing National Council and all three regions (North, East and West).

There is also no limit to how many applications a club or district can submit.

Hugh explains: “We want to try and promote the fund, so that clubs know what they can apply for help with.

“Unlike some of the Young Farmers trusts, we’ve not had the luxury of a lot of investment, so as well as making clubs aware of us, we also want to make the wider community aware that we also want to build the fund.

“It grows every year, but any clubs that are looking for beneficiaries for their fund-raising efforts, or any individuals looking to make donations to something, we want them to know where we are.

“Fittingly, Annadale (Willies own club) were one of the first clubs to reap the benefits of the fund, but they were also one of the first clubs to contribute to us, which was great and something Willie would have very much appreciated.”

One important thing to note about the fund, is that it’s a national fund, not a regional one, so literally any Scottish club can apply.

And apply they have – right from Ayrshire up through Argyll and up to Latheron.

Things like cattle dressing, sports equipment, club anniversary celebrations, first aid courses, introductions to horse riding, and club laptops – to name but a few – have already been purchased or put on by clubs with the help of Willie Davidson 75th Anniversary Fund subsidy.

“Willie was generally a very committed man” explained Sandy, “If he put his mind to something, he did it to the very best of his ability, but teamed with that, he had a great sense of humour. He could make anyone, of any age feel comfortable, and that in itself is a real skill.

“I think the main aim of the Fund is that we want to help future generations,” concluded Sandy.

“That was something Willie tried to do throughout his whole life, so if we can carry that on even just a wee bit, in his name, then I think that’s perfect.”

• For more information about the Fund, head to