By Laura McCulloch

IF EVER we needed strong connections between young and old, it is now.

With community work being a strong focus of Stranraer and Rhins YFC, members have been determined to not let lockdown halt their activities.

Our club has formed a new relationship with Dumfries and Galloway Alzheimer’s Scotland, which run several supportive groups, ranging from a rural life group, arts and crafts, cookery and gardening.

After coming in contact with the charity, the young farmers were eager to help keep these vital groups alive for members who are unable to leave their houses due to the current lockdown.

The charity’s support groups are very relatable to our own young farmers syllabus, including things such as handicrafts and farm visits.

So it seemed fitting to embrace digital and create videos that covered these aspects, with the aim of bringing a virtual slice of normality into our local elders lives.

From clips in the milking parlour, to baking, to lambing live scenes and a cheery singing duet, the 14 committee members have given an insight into rural life, young farmer life and supported the community through their ‘lockdown life’ videos.

The Scottish Farmer:

Club leader Douglas Buchanan showing a video clip of him milking cows

“It has been a difficult start to the year for both the club and everyone personally,” commented club chairman, Neil Ramsay.

“As a club, we feel lucky to be able to continue doing some work in the community through the use of technology. In years gone by, isolation would have really meant total isolation.”

The charity’s Rural Life group offers a fantastic insight into agriculture, via farm visits and farmer talks; which of course currently can’t be held.

So, being able to watch a calf being born, cows being milked and tractors being driven through a screen can have a positive impact on alzheimer sufferers right now and can reignite many farming memories.

Locality leader for Dumfries and Galloway Alzheimer’s Scotland, Claire Stroyan, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our local young farmers club have been able to work with us and are looking forward to seeing how things progress with the wonderful work they are producing digitally.”

Stranraer and Wigtownshire community activities organiser, Karen Anderson, added: “Our groups focus on reducing isolation and loneliness and it has been a really difficult time for our members right now.

“It’s important that we maintain the work we normally do by approaching things differently. This involvement from the young farmers has really helped us do that.”

As well as injecting good into the local area, the young farmers club have personally witnessed the benefits of becoming more tech savvy during lockdown.

The Scottish Farmer:

Club school rep Susannah Service demonstrating the handicraft element of the club

“Making my lockdown life video really boosted my confidence speaking publicly in front of a camera, which is quite a daunting thing to do,” said junior member and club school rep, Susannah Service.

“I feel that as a club, it’s amazing that we can still come together to support and raise awareness for local organisations such as Alzheimer Scotland during these uncertain times.”

Club social media convenor, Lee Burns, added: “Video content is not something we created much of before lockdown, but it’s proven really popular on the clubs social pages and has acted as a good way of showing the community that we are here to help.”

As the weeks progress, Stranraer and Rhins YFC is looking forward to developing its link with Dumfries and Galloway Alzheimer’s Scotland and will continue to think innovatively to offer their support.

Our work with the charity is just beginning.

Some of our members are now remaining actively involved with handicrafts, by creating tutorial videos to share with the charity through our Facebook page. For members, demonstrating their grannies recipe via their iPhone is helping maintain traditional young farmer skills, whilst incorporating modern ones too.

As Neil Ramsay went on to suggest, we are all looking for silver linings during this pandemic. The silver lining here is that uniting different generations is possible and vital at any time.

“Stranraer and Rhins YFC had always worked hard to support the local community but a pandemic like we are seeing now brings home just how important it is,” Mr Ramsay reflected.

“Many local charities are under more strain than ever before and we are very keen to support them in any way we can. Acts that may seem small and insignificant can go a long way.”

Karen Anderson concluded: “When this is all over we hope to welcome the young farmers along to some of our groups, so that they can introduce themselves face to face and meet some of the wonderful people they have been able to support.”

At the end of the day, when we all log off from the ‘zoom boom’ and digital craze, key things remain at the heart of this young farmers club.

Their members, supporters, local community and memories gained prior and during this lockdown period.

For more information and advice on Dumfries and Galloway Alzheimer’s Scotland visit


Facebook: Alzheimer Scotland – Dumfries and Galloway

Helpline: 0808 808 3000