Heidi bids fond farewell to farm­ers union

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - At the 2009 An­gle­sey Show, Heidi staged a Women’s Land Army ex­hi­bi­tion, which brought her into con­tact with for­mer Land Girl Sy­bil Ham­mond, be­low

FOR more than a decade Heidi Wil­liams has chivvied, ca­joled and or­gan­ised the farm­ers of An­gle- sey.

From her FUW of­fice in Llangefni she com­pleted count­less forms, vis­ited scores of farms, cooked dozens of break­fasts and of­fered a shoul­der to lean on when the go­ing got tough.

To­mor­row night how­ever she will close her of­fice door and bid farewell to the FUW, whom she had served as its chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer on An­gle­sey for 12 years.

As you might ex­pect, she will leave with mixed emo­tions: sad­ness at leav­ing be­hind the union fam­ily, and op­ti­mism for her new con­sul­tancy ven­ture.

At the age of 48, she de­cided it was the right time to strike out on her own. “I’m 50 next year and if I was ever go­ing to set up my own busi­ness, I knew I would have to do it now,” she said.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing time but it wasn’t easy to leave the union. Many FUW An­gle­sey mem­bers have be­come good friends over the years and I will miss them.”

The seeds of Heidi’s de­par­ture were sown 12 months ago when she ap­proached the union ask­ing for its con- sent to un­der­take some ex­tracur­ric­u­lar work.

Her idea was to spend her free time help­ing farm­ers source Gla­stir Small Grants. The FUW agreed and what be­gan as a trickle of in­quiries soon snow­balled.

“In the past few months the client base in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly and I re­alised it would be dif­fi­cult to give 100% to both,” said Heidi, mum to Leiah, 16, and Re­becca, 10.

Thus her new con­sul­tancy was con­ceived. Based at her home in Gwlch­mai, C’N’G Farm & Coun­try will for­mally open for busi­ness on Mon­day.

The apos­tro­phes were de­lib­er­ate as the name al­ludes to her fa­ther Ned’s long-run­ning fam­ily busi­ness, the Celt’n’Gael eques­trian cen­tre.

Based a mile away at Rhandir Farm, it re­mains a fond child­hood mem­ory for gen­er­a­tions of An­gle­sey rid­ers, its al­lure par­tially y stem­stem ming from the cen­tre’s un­usual in­door arena – a for­mer Crosville bus de­pot that was translanted from Caernar­fon.

Heidi has her own happy memories work­ing at the cen­tre and re­fin­ing her rid­ing skills, which saw her head to Switzer­land for six years as a rid­ing in­struc­tor.

“Set­ting up my own busi­ness will hope­fully give me the flex­i­bil­ity to fo­cus more on my girls – and on my­self,” she said.

“There are 35 horses at Celt’n’Gael but I’d love to have one of my own one day.

“Be­ing based from home will also ease the load on my hus­band, who has fully sup­ported my ca­reer over the years.”

She’s mar­ried to sur­face pro­tec­tion spe­cial­ist Peter, which over the years has give rise to the in­evitable wise­cracks. “Yes, Heidi and Peter – every­one seems to re­mem­ber the film,” she said.

From Switzer­land she re­turned as the sec­re­tary for An­gle­sey County Show. She re­mained there for 15 years be­fore switch­ing to the FUW.

Her as­so­ci­a­tion with the show- ground was fur­ther ce­mented by her work with the Women’s Land Army, which Heidi rates as her proud­est ca­reer achieve­ment.

Frus­trated that the ef­forts of the re­gion’s Land Army girls had gone largely un­recog­nised, in 2010 she or­gan­ised a 1940s-themed reunion at Swal­low Falls Ho­tel, Betws y Coed. From this emerged an FUW-led fundrais­ing cam­paign which saw Wales’ first ever Land Army me­mo­rial erected at An­gle­sey show­ground.

“I’m still in touch with Sy­bil Ham­mond (the cam­paign’s fig­ure­head). She’s now 93,” said Heidi.

Her new busi­ness will have ac­cess to spe­cial­ist con­sul­tants and will of­fer help with ev­ery­thing from Sin­gle Ap­pli­ca­tion Forms to record keep­ing.

How­ever it will spe­cialise in grant sourc­ing. “There will be a lot of new grant schemes com­ing for­ward after Brexit, mostly with an en­vi­ron­men­tal theme,” said Heidi.

“Hope­fully we’ll be able to help the re­gion’s farm­ers re­place some the in­come that will in­evitably dis­ap­pear as sub­si­dies de­cline.”

C’N’G: Heidi Wil­liams, 07725 516949 or cng­far­mand­coun­try @gmail.com.

Heidi out­side the FUW of­fices in Llangefni

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