JOINING the Young Farmers organisation in Witney as a teenager gave Milly Wastie lots of confidence.
Now she has risen through the Young Farmers’ network to become national chairman.
Miss Wastie, 27, grew up in Cote, near Bampton, and has just been voted in as chairman of the National Federation of Young Farmers.
The former Henry Box School student joined the Witney branch when she was 14 and rose to become the branch chairman before joining the national federation.
The National Federation of Young Farmers has 660 clubs and about 25,000 members aged between 10 and 26 in England and Wales.
Miss Wastie will lead the federation’s policy, meet members, develop the local clubs and boost its status to the outside world.
She said: “I joined the Witney branch 13 years ago and I have never looked back since then.
“Living in Cote and not having any transport to get to Witney after school, it provided me with the opportunity to socialise with like-minded people, have fun, go on trips and go to parties.
“I was quite shy at school but the group gave me a lot more confidence.
“We did a lot of public speaking – I still do a lot now – and it really brought me out of my shell.”
Miss Wastie, whose family still lives in West Oxfordshire, said being voted into the new year-long role, which is voluntary, had still not quite sunk in.
She said: “It is quite overwhelming but it is pretty cool.
“There are going to be so many fantastic opportunities in the next year. I cannot wait to get out and work with our grass roots members.”
She hopes to use her role to help support the farming community, encourage British produce and engage local groups with the national federation. But her main goal is to launch a new road safety campaign.
She said: “It is something very close to my heart because when I was club chairman in Witney we lost a member in a car accident. That was 10 years ago now.
“Our membership live and work in isolated rural areas and rely heavily on cars to get from A to B.
“But we are most at risk when it comes to being in an accident because we do not have the necessary skills or knowledge to tackle different driving conditions that rural roads set out.”
She is working with road safety charity Brake to train advisors and hopes to have one in each county to advise youngsters about driving safely.
In her day job, Miss Wastie, who now lives in Northamptonshire, is the East Midlands regional manager for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.