A Clitheroe woman has praised a youth group for its positive impact on her life.
Once a shy girl, Hazel Stansfield (21) has transformed into a confident young woman thanks to her experiences with Clitheroe Young Farmers' Club.
Despite having never grown up on a farm, she has learnt an array of agricultural skills and taken part in various competitions. It even gave her the confidence to host a huge tribute event in memory of a friend who died of cancer.
Hazel said: "Angle grinding and welding are skills I never thought I would ever need to pick up.
"But if you’re super-competitive like me, and someone challenges you to a metalwork competition, then you throw yourself into it!
"Some of the skills you pick up could prove useful in later life – but that’s not the point. I might never need to use a welding set ever again. But I learned how to do it. And being part of YFC has given me the mindset that you can learn anything if you put your mind to it."
When her friend Louise Hartley, a fellow club member and a journalist with the Farmers Guardian, died of cancer a couple of years ago, Hazel helped her brother to organise a tractor run in her memory. Hazel's duties included: pre-bookings, wristbands, insurance, disclaimers, posters, and banners etc.
The community rallied round them, entering around 70 tractors and helping the club to raise more than £2,000.
"It was such a big thing to organise and we did it all from scratch. All the local villagers came out and supported us – it was a really good day," she said. "But that’s YFC. You want to do something and you do it."
As well as farming skills, she has taken part in activities like cookery, tug of war, dancing and panto, and has even made it to the national finals in stock-judging competitions.
She added: "It has been a huge help to me in my career too. I’m an insurance adviser with NFU Mutual. They told me after the interview that having YFC on my CV and talking about what it had given me made me stand out.
"Before joining YFC I was shy and struggled to talk to new people. Now I talk to anyone – it has brought me out as a person because of the support you get from the other members."
For more information visit www.nfyfc.org.uk