Stranraer and Rhins Young Farmers are the most southern club based in south-west Scotland.

Stretching down to Scotland’s most southern point, the Mull of Galloway all the way back to Kirkcolm, the most northern tip of the Rhins, the club was founded in 2004 when Southern Rhins and Stranraer and District amalgamated.

The Scottish Farmer: Committee photo - back left: Ailsa Buchanan, Bronwyn McKie, Robert McHarrie, Laura McCulloch, Matthew McCrone, James Connolly, Hannah Torbet - front left: Neil Ramsay, Robert Ramsay, Scott Service, Iona Irving, Katie TorranceCommittee photo - back left: Ailsa Buchanan, Bronwyn McKie, Robert McHarrie, Laura McCulloch, Matthew McCrone, James Connolly, Hannah Torbet - front left: Neil Ramsay, Robert Ramsay, Scott Service, Iona Irving, Katie Torrance

Now with 60 members, the group regularly gets together to carry out anything from stock judging, beach volleyball, and handicrafts, to charity events.

In August last year, more than 30 present, past, and future members took part in the charity triathlon fundraiser ‘Conquering Kilometres’.

This involved a 10km run around their local town of Stranraer, followed by a 1.5km swim and a 40km cycle out to the Mull of Galloway.

The Scottish Farmer: School tidy up - L to R: Ian Irving, Neil Ramsay, Robert Ramsay, Iona Irving, Laura McCullochSchool tidy up - L to R: Ian Irving, Neil Ramsay, Robert Ramsay, Iona Irving, Laura McCulloch

A lot of training was required prior to the event, involving many bike rides, runs and lengths swam in the months before the event – some members trained more than others!

The young farmers were delighted to raise £5969.52 which was split between West Galloway Region St John Scotland, helping fund their efforts in providing a palliative care unit at the local Galloway Community Hospital.

The Scottish Farmer: 'Conquering Kilometres' attendees'Conquering Kilometres' attendees

Members were delighted to work closely with their chosen charity, as the £3000 donated to the charity will be used to benefit the community and help comfort those families and patients in need of support.

The remaining portion was added to the clubs’ funds to pay for sporting equipment, hall hire costs, transport, and general expenses required to keep the club running.

The Scottish Farmer: The charity triathlon raised £5,969.52The charity triathlon raised £5,969.52

Club chair, Iona Irving described the success of the triathlon: “The event was a huge achievement for all that took part and those who worked behind the scenes to make it possible.

“There was a real feeling of community spirit on the day with lots of people cheering us on and donating to such worthwhile causes.

She continued: “The fundraiser couldn’t have been as big of a success without the support from our club members, the local community, and the generous donations from local businesses.”

The Scottish Farmer: The triathlon included a 10km runThe triathlon included a 10km run

September brought another community led event where members worked closely with the local primary school at Dummore, dismantling and removing old playground equipment and making the playground a safer space for pupils to play.

They donated the money gathered from the scrap metal back to the school.

The club was delighted to later hear the money had been used to buy new PE and playground equipment.

The Scottish Farmer: A 1.5km swim was undertaken at Stranraer Academy pool during the triathlonA 1.5km swim was undertaken at Stranraer Academy pool during the triathlon

Better Lives Partnership, Stranraer, is a charity that support autistic young people who have experienced barriers to traditional routes of education or employment.

Members provided talks and a farm visit for a group of 15 young adults aged between 16 and 25, promoting career opportunities available within the agricultural sector.

The youngsters learned all about calf rearing, milk production and they even had hands-on experience with feeding calves and exploring machinery found on the farm.

The Scottish Farmer: Scott Service Scott Service

Last year also welcomed the addition of 14 budding new junior members who have shown great enthusiasm and interest in club events throughout the year.

In November, two junior speech making teams competed at the Dumfries and Galloway competition.

The girls also competed at the National level in December where they were placed fifth.

Going forward, members are looking ahead to planning events to round off their jam-packed 2023/24 syllabus, holding their AGM shortly.

The club is confident that the coming 2024/25 calendar will hold even more fun and success for members new and old.

Club chair Scott Service, Stranraer and Rhins YF

How long have you been in young farmers?

I’ve been a member for 10 years after joining aged 14.

Your favourite memory?

Rounding off my year as chair at this year’s dinner dance, reflecting on the success Stranraer and Rhins has had, and celebrating with the members and supporters of the club.

Did you take part in ‘Conquering Kilometres’? How did you find it?

Yes, I took part, competing on the day was challenging with the weather but it was great to get lots of club members involved and we raised a fantastic amount of money. The support from locals and businesses in the area helped us all push on and complete the triathlon.

What would you say to young people wishing to join?

Just head along to your local club as it was certainly one of the best things I’ve done. There is something for everyone, whether you’re from a farming background or not. For example, people can take part in sports nights, concerts, talent spots, etc. You don’t need to have any relevant farming experience and it’s a great way to meet like-minded people. There are also plenty of opportunities relating to agriculture to help young people gain more experience and skills within the industry.

How has being in the YF impacted your personal development or life?

Speechmaking stands out to me as it has allowed me to be more confident with public speaking which is a skill I use regularly. Also, club exchanges and events have allowed me to meet new people from across the country and gain new contacts.

Tips for being in the YF?

Get out of your comfort zone and take part in every event you possibly can.

What do you find most rewarding about YF?

Seeing the junior members progressing through the club and continuing to drive the club forward.

If you had to survive on an island with three others from your club, who would they be?

My secretary for the year, Iona Irving for her organisational skills, but mostly for her country cook winning meals. I’d also take Darren Cumming as he is reliable and will always give 100%. His new plane spotting hobby may also help to get us home! Finally, my vice-chair Robert Ramsay so I can hand it over to him and enjoy the sun!

What skills have you learned whilst being a member?

Speech making has been the most beneficial skill to me. Cattle dressing and stock judging are other skills that I have learned through young farmers and can use at home on the farm. Additionally, learning how the organisation works gives you a feel for how other organisations are run in terms of committee structures and accounts.

What keeps you committed and engaged with this club over the long term?

We are a relatively young club entering our 20th year, and still having the support of the members who were involved with the initial amalgamation helps to keep me committed and keen to keep building on the successes of our recent history. In general, being part of a club that succeeds at all things young farmers and seeing the impact we can have in terms of local community engagement is a huge part of keeping me engaged with Stranraer and Rhins YFC.