FORMER YMCA "British Boys for British Farms" held a poignant reunion at North Cadbury Court in Somerset on May 23.

It marked ten years since their first reunion there in May 2014, which was filmed by the BBC's Countryfile.

After the Second World War a large part of the house was lent to the YMCA, as part of a scheme to train underprivileged city boys who wanted an entry into farming.

Between 1948 and 1966 several hundred young men learnt their trade here and many have returned from farms all over the world to revisit.

The day was an opportunity to remember their time at the court and they were treated to tours of house, cheese making and a ploughman’s lunch. The day brought back many recollections of their time here, which included arriving at the "big house" from Castle Cary station and realising it was a huge change from the city. Some were homesick in the early weeks.

The largest and oldest youth charity in the world, the YMCA, started a new scheme in 1932 called British Boys for British Farms.

It had seen a desperate need for young men to find employment and make a better life for themselves.  At the same time, farming was in a sorry state and needed a bigger skilled workforce.

Boys were referred from towns and cities across the UK. Some came from less wealthy backgrounds or left school with few qualifications, so didn’t have the choice of going to agricultural college. North Cadbury Court was one of the farms used for this.

For thirty six years the name British Boys for British Farms was respected in agricultural circles, promoted by the National Farmers Union, the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Labour, the Kellogg Foundation, schools, colleges, employment agencies as well as social welfare departments.

Rob Hewlett, a scheme member in 1958, worked on a local farm and got a taste for pedigree cows and went on become estate manager at Boddington Estates in Cheltenham. Some of the boys went on to farm institutes or agricultural colleges as well as working abroad in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. One BBBF boy became a missionary farmer in Formosa, now Taiwan.

In 1961 the YMCA also started British Boys for British Horticulture Training Scheme, known as BBBH at Wilderwick, East Grinstead and continued at Park Hill near Derby, from 1966 until 1968. These were the only two BBBF centres out of the 14 to run both BBBF and BBBH training schemes. Some of the BBBH boys went on to work in several Royal Gardens and at Kew Gardens.

Stephen Milner, former farm boy and reunion organiser said: “Everyone really made the British Boys for British Farms reunion such a tremendous success, together with the morning and afternoon visits to the farm and the two tours of the court. The ploughman’s lunch with the Montgomery Cheeses was superb, as well as the afternoon tea to end a very special day for us all.  It was brilliant to talk to the BBBF boys who used to be at the court for their farm training course.”