AYRSHIRE’S CARA Gilbert has been crowned SAYFC’s National Member of the Year for 2021, fending off stiff competition from seven other district finalists.

The competition took place via zoom on Saturday, February 27, with judges Louise Smith, Lynne Leitch and Brian Weatherup tasked with the tough job of choosing the top three on the evening.

The eight competitors were asked to give a brief introduction to their time in Young Farmers, followed by various questions regarding the organisation and questions based on their application.

Representing the Ayrshire district and taking the top spot on the night was 23-year-old Cara Gilbert, a financial paraplanner who comes from a village just outside Kilmaurs. Runner-up was awarded to 24-year-old Annie Bryson, a ruminant sales specialist who represented Lanarkshire on the night. In third place and representing the Clyde and Central district, was 22-year-old Stephen Taylor, a service engineer with DairyFlow GEA.

Completing the rest of the field was Nicola Waugh, representing Lothian and Peebles; Dumfries and Galloway’s Laura McCulloch; Emma Laird from Fife and Kinross district; Perthshire’s Mhairi Dalgliesh and representing Angus Tayside, Louise Greenhill.

The SF caught up with winner Cara Gilbert, the current secretary of Kilmaurs and District Young Farmers Club, who was absolutely delighted to discover she had lifted the prestigious title.

The Scottish Farmer:

Member of the Year Cara Gilbert

“This title is held in very high regard within Young Famers, with the winners seen as role models for other members throughout the country,” she said. “It is safe to say I was completely surprised when I opened the front door the next morning to see the trophy on the doorstep and I am incredibly proud to hold the title of Member of the Year 2021!”

She added that she is excited to hold the title in the year ahead as it gives her the opportunity to join in the discussions with national committees and the chance to positively influence the future of Young Farmers as the country navigates its way out of the current pandemic.

Looking back over the past year, she explained what she has been doing to ensure club members remained engaged despite the usual busy YF calendar of events being being cancelled.

“It has been a difficult year for all clubs and our members, so I was determined to try my best to help direct our club through this really unusual time in our lives.”

This included moving events online such as hosting a virtual stock judging; virtual machinery valuation and a virtual concert – all held on Facebook. Kilmaurs also added in completely new events to suit restrictions such as photography competitions, and socially distanced events like rounders and a trip to the driving range.

Cara continued: “Any ideas suggested by the club committee, I was keen to fulfil for the club members. In addition, I wanted to be sure to make the most of other opportunities offered to me through SAYFC this year, including being invited to join one of the newly formed national committees, Covid-19 training and also mental health first aid training – which was funded for our club members by the Willie Davidson 75th Anniversary Fund and the AreEweOK campaign.”

Cara has been an active member of Young Farmers for many years, adding that she has always been keen to take part in the wide variety of events and competitions, learning many new skills along the way.

“With all that has happened in the last year, it has been great to see how clubs have adapted and used their initiative,” she continued. “I fully encourage members to support their clubs both now and when we return to normal and to get involved as much as they can during their time in Young Farmers, to really make the most of it. Young Farmers is a brilliant organisation and gives you as much back as the effort you put in!”