County Armagh members Richard Boyes (Bleary YFC) and Stephen Reid (Collone YFC) were celebrating at this year’s Balmoral Show when they picked up first place in the YFCU Machinery Handling Competition.
The contest, held in association with Johnston Gilpin & Co. Limited, saw a large crowd of spectators at the Cattle Lawn, where they cheered on their teams. Two members from clubs in each of the six counties, selected from county heats, made up the teams and there were three heats to determine which two teams took part in the final head to head. All six counties took part to test their capabilities on a challenging course designed by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland.
Using John Deere 6230 4WD tractors with a container of water at the front, driver one in each team had to lift two bales of hay (one at a time) and drive through the designated course of gates to the end, depositing the bales on specific spots. After safely parking the tractor and lifter in a designated garage he removes the key and returns to the start box. Driver two then lifts the bales and reverses through the course. The bales were repositioned in their original position.
To give all the teams a sporting chance those waiting at the commentary box were blind folded while the first and second heats were carried out.
Points were awarded for successfully making it through the course, lifting and setting down the bails and driving through the posts, however teams were penalised if they did not comply with safety regulations, touching markers, ground damage and for water loss at 5 seconds per centimetre. This competition was designed to test both the drivers’ tractor skills and safety knowledge.
YFCU would like to thank Robbie Hewitt, Thomas Lyttle and Randal McConnell from Johnson Gilpin & Co.Ltd for their continued sponsorship of this event. They would also like to thank Harry Barr, Malcolm Downey and John Spiers from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland for designing the course and conducting the assessment on the evening.