PICTURES: Lanergill stone commemorates Young Farmers' 100th anniversary
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Around 60 people gathered outside a former Caithness schoolhouse at the weekend to mark the 100th anniversary of Scotland's Young Farmers movement.
A commemorative stone was unveiled in a doorway at the old Lanergill school, now a private home, where the first Young Farmers club in the country was formed at a meeting in April 1923.
The event took place in ideal conditions on Saturday afternoon. There was an opening address by Sandy Douglas, a past chairman of Halkirk Young Farmers and Caithness district, who is now chairing the 100th anniversary organising committee, and he then handed over to guest speaker Derek Douglas, a past chairman of Bower.
A Caithness flag was pulled away to reveal an inscription with the current Young Farmers logo above it and a horse and plough design, a nod to the old logo, at the bottom.
The unveiling was performed by Iona Campbell (Bower) and Alana Ross (Forss), the youngest members of their respective clubs.
Avril Henderson, secretary of the Caithness Young Farmers’ 100th anniversary committee, said: "It was a beautiful day and it all went fine.
"What was really good was that when the flag dropped there was a gasp as everyone saw the stone.
"All age groups were delighted with it, and it's not often that happens! I was quite pleased with that."
Mrs Henderson felt it was appropriate that Iona and Alana should be present to do the honours. "They've both got Young Farmers going through their veins – there is the history of the Young Farmers going through their families," she said.
The stone was supplied by local firm Norse Stone from Lieurary quarry.
Transport was arranged for the 60 or so people to get to Lanergill and around 40 returned to Spittal hall for tea.
In his speech, Mr Douglas highlighted the spirit of friendship and "pulling together" that Young Farmers are known for.
"Over the years there have been a wide range of activities and competitions available for Young Farmers to participate in, though with the passage of time some have become irrelevant or gone out of fashion," he pointed out. "How many of today's Young Farmers could thin turnips or truss a chicken? Some of the competitions currently on the go are beef and dairy cattle-dressing, sheep-dressing and agriskills as well as the old faithfuls stockjudging, speechmaking and tug of war.
"Speaking of tug of war, the Young Farmers are good at pulling together and helping their local community, whether it be assisting at the local show, providing speakers for Burns suppers or raising money for charity.
"Caithness clubs have been active participants in many national competitions and have enjoyed success at junior and senior speechmaking, the stockmanship programme and Country Cook of the Year, and it was especially pleasing in this 100th anniversary year that a Caithness club, Bower, were awarded the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs' club of the year trophy."
Mr Douglas added: "One of the great things about the Young Farmers is friendship – we make friends within our club and district and within other clubs throughout the country."
The Caithness Young Farmers' 100th anniversary activities have included a display at the Royal Highland Show and the Caithness County Show, and the year will culminate with a centenary ball on Saturday, November 18, at the Assembly Rooms in Wick.
Tickets went on sale on Monday and anyone wishing to attend should call Avril Henderson on 07765 646356 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
North Point Distillery is producing 100 bottles of Young Farmers Centenary Gin. These will be available in November but orders are now being taken.
The movement is led by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC). There are 72 clubs across Scotland, including the three in Caithness.
SAYFC describes itself as a membership organisation for and run by young people from across Scotland. It has more than 3500 members across three regions.