Matthew Harding joined Whitley Chapel Young Farmers’ aged just seventeen. Now, at 25, he occupies the position of chairman.

The group, which acts as a movement for young people from rural areas, forms a valuable part of Matthew’s life; he credits it with providing him with a “massive network” of like-minded individuals.

The tree surgeon from Lowgate first got involved with the club through his cousins, who are also members, and said his participation “snowballed” from that point onwards.

Since then, he has taken part in productions of The Wind and the Willows, The Good, The Bad and The Panto and took to the stage once again at the weekend in a production of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. That’s quite an achievement for someone who described himself as “pretty shy” when he first joined, Matthew now pushes the more sceptical members to participate in the arts, assuring them that they will enjoy it once they get onto the stage.

As well as taking on an active role on stage, off stage Matthew, in his position as chairman, is responsible for passing on information from Northumberland county headquarters to members and organising social events for the 50-strong group, made up of 12 to 27 year olds.

Before being voted in as chairman a year ago, Matthew acted as treasurer for the club and claims, perhaps rather modestly: “The only good thing I did was find a good successor.”

The club, which meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month, are already gearing up for the next big Northumberland Young Farmers’ rally, to be held at Tritlington, near Morpeth, where Whitley Chapel members will try their hand in anything from industrial skills to field work.

The group has enjoyed success in the past, bringing home a trophy for their efforts in a national tug of war competition in Shropshire.

The accolade was a massive achievement, as it was the first time a Northumberland club had won in over fifty years, and came in the same year as their win in a young farmers’ pantomime competition.

To keep the club afloat, and support local good causes, the group regularly fund-raise with a recent carol concert raising money for mental health charity MIND and RABI, The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, which supports farming efforts.