Gleno Valley Young Farmers’ Club is still going strong, eight decades after it was formed in November, 1934 by a small group of dedicated founders.
Charles P McCormick and Nathaniel Crawford formed the club, according to local legend, after a “falling out” with Ballynure YFC. The first meeting was held in Gleno Temperance Hall and the first president was Rev. John McCleery, a minister and farmer.
The main event of the early years was the Gleno Show which was first held on September 27, 1941 .
Other activities included dances organised by female members, with people coming from across the county. It was said that there was “no dance like Gleno’s”.
The first club stock judging competition took place in September 1956.
One member who gave more than 60 years’ service to the club was Sam Howie, who succeeded the long-serving Rita Paisley as club secretary in 1946. He held the post until 1960 and then shared the post for another four years. He served as club president from 1978 until 1980 and then succeeded James Dunlop as club patron in 1984, a post which he held until his death in May, 2009.
Former club president and vice-president Rev. Dr. John Nelson said: “A great many young people have at one time or another, been members of Gleno Valley Young Farmers’ Club.
“In that club, they have made friendships which have often lasted for a lifetime. They have enhanced the skills which would make them better farmers and they have learnt life skills that enriched their lives and would, into the years to come, make them better citizens and better countrymen and women.”
A highlight of the anniversary year was the dedication of its refurbished hall by Rev. Dr. Nelson, who has been credited with driving the project forward. The renovation project was largely funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Today’s 87 members take part in similar activities to their predecossors.
Annual activities include public speaking and debating, stock judging, sports. Members can also participate in international exchanges.
Kathy Holden, spokesperson, said the club is open to young people from non-farming backgrounds.
“Most people in the club have parents and grandparents who were members and have passed it on to the next generation,” she explained. “Members are aged 12 plus and can take part in competitions until they are aged 25, although they can remain members.
“People want to be part of Gleno. It is more like a family. We meet every Tuesday, in the hall, Gleno village, at 8.00 pm. We hope to make it to our 100th anniversary,” Kathy added.