BALMORAL SHOW 2018
NI farming women tell why it’s always a highlight of the year for their families
As all roads lead to the Balmoral Show this week, it will be an extra special event for the Ulster Farmers’ Union as it celebrates its centenary. The union is staging a host of events throughout 2018 to mark its 100th anniversary and has set itself the ambitious target of raising £100,000 towards the running costs of Northern Ireland’s Air Ambulance.
Farmers will be invited to have their memories recorded at a special stand at this year’s Balmoral Show, which will honour the contribution of members over those 100 years.
The stand has been designed to highlight all that is good about agriculture and the work of local farmers during the union’s lifetime.
Food will yet again focus on local produce and the union has appointed Old Barn to cater on the stand over the four days with a menu designed to champion each sector of farming.
Known as ‘the voice of farmers’, the member-led organisation has promoted the farming industry through many challenges and political changes, including both world wars and the partition of Ireland as well as the BSE crisis in 1996 and the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.
The union is currently involved in securing the best deal for agriculture during the Brexit negotiations, seeking solutions in relation to the border, trade deals, direct support and access to labour.
We caught up with two farmers’ wives, who are also active members of the UFU, to give us a glimpse into life on a modern day farm and what the Balmoral Show means to them.
Igrew up on a small farm and always said I wouldn’t marry a farmer. I met my husband, who also grew up on a farm, on a blind date in the local pub, and he asked to see me again over a game of pool.
Growing up, I was one of six and Mum and Dad got us out and about. We went to the local youth club and music lessons and were in choirs and played badminton, so we never felt isolated growing up in a rural community.
I had a bit of a health scare a few years ago when I was on Armagh Council and lost my voice for four months. I left the council to spend a year on the farm to get better. I started working on the farm and found it addictive. I just loved being outside.
I also help out with milking. We have 160 dairy cows and two houses of chickens, and no two days are the same.
It can be hard work, but it’s so rewarding.
Today, I am waiting on the vet to come to scan two heifers.
It was when I first lost my voice and was sitting at home that I watched my first ever cookery show, Australian MasterChef. I really got into cooking after that. Now I collect cookery books and have them all over the house.
I was runner-up twice in an All-Ireland cook-off competition, and as a result of that I was approached by a local food producer, Pinkertons, who I now do recipes and demonstrations for.
I have created some of my own sauces, and at the Balmoral Show this year I will be on the cookery stand, The Mighty Spud, cooking my own recipes for two days on Friday and Saturday.
I also hold fundraising Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook events and recently staged one and raised over £5,000 towards the union’s centenary char-
‘It’s so diverse — you’ll find something new each year’
Co Down farmer Shaw Hanna with wife Fionaand their children, Ewan (2), Charlie (5), Zoe (6) and Callum (8)
Mum-of-four Joy Rollston on her farm outside Newry
Ex-Armagh City councillor Joy Rollston lives on a poultry and dairy farm outside Newry. Chair of the Ulster Farmers’ Union rural affairs committee, she is a passionate cook who runs charity cooking events and also works as a cookery demonstrator for a local food firm. Joy is married to William (46), and they have four children, Daniel (24), Jayne (22), Stuart (15) and 13-year-old Jack. Joy says: