Ballymoney Show organisers receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
The North Antrim Agricultural Association which annually organises Ballymoney Show has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Ballymoney is unique among shows in the UK and Ireland as it is organised and run, mainly by volunteers under the age of 30 from three local Young Farmers Clubs namely Finvoy, Kilraughts and Moycraig.
The Association was formed in 1903 to promote Agriculture. One of the main ways of doing this was through organising an Agricultural Show. When shows stopped in the early years of the second world war, the three clubs took up the reins in June 1944 and have run the show ever since. Only four annual shows have been missed due to Foot and Mouth in 1952 and 2001 and now Covid in 2020 and 2021. The show is well recognised for showcasing and promoting agriculture, food and crafts with around 150 volunteers involved in all the planning, raising sponsorship, ground maintenance, show build up, stewarding livestock and home industries classes, manning gates, parking vehicles etc and show break down and tidying up.
Over 100 of the volunteers during the week of the show are active Young Farmers Club members between the ages of 12 and 30 years. The chairmanship of the show committee is an active Young Farmer with the position rotating around the three clubs for a two year term. Ballymoney Show is fortunate to have many forward thinking and talented young people with the current Board Chairman awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2020 and two of the current YFCU Vice-President’s on the show committee.
The North Antrim Agricultural Association is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups UK wide to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created on 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on the 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation. The Association will receive the award crystal and certificate from the Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim. Two volunteers from the show committee will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022.
When the show didn’t run in 2020, the same volunteers from the three clubs were active helping in their communities by collecting and delivering food to Food Banks, delivering food parcels to house bound and shielding homes, delivering PPE for Marie Curie, education packs for school children, collecting litter and sponsored challenges for mental health. The QAVS Team and all the assessors, appreciated the work done to help the local community through this difficult time. As a result the show volunteers will consequently receive a specially crafted crystal with the words ‘with special recognition - Covid 19’ included in the engraving. There will also be a special badge given to individual volunteers involved in providing extra support related to the pandemic.
The President of the North Antrim Agricultural Association, James Morrison, says that all those involved in organising and running the show are delighted that the Association has been recognised and paid tribute to the hard work and commitment of all the volunteers involved.
He added: “Thanks are extended to our nominator Mr Joseph Patton CBE, FRAgS and to Councillor Joan Baird and Robert Calvin of the NFU for their letters of support.
“The young members of Ballymoney committee are very conscious that due to the pandemic young people have become disengaged from showing animals and indeed from school in many situations. Therefore on our show day of 5th June, to try and reengage them we will launch a virtual young handlers competition in the dairying, beef and sheep sections. Look out for this on Saturday.”