Heidi bids fond farewell to farmers union
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