Positive day for those who braved the snow at NSA Central Region Winter Fair

The snow and terrible travel conditions did little to dent the enthusiasm of sheep farmers and allied industries at the NSA Central Region Winter Fair, held at Bakewell Market, Derbyshire, on Thursday (29th January).

Attendance was lower than organisers hoped, but given the state of the roads in the area, they were delighted to be able to go ahead at all. Anne Payne, Event Organiser, says: “We are so grateful to the trade stand holders, seminar speakers, competition judges, and stewards who braved the weather to support the event, as they ensured the visitors who attended had a brilliant day. There was a real buzz of enthusiasm, with farmers from the area picking up practical tips for their businesses and meeting new and old friends alike.”

An impressive 22 under-27-year-olds battled with the tough conditions to compete in the Young Shepherd of the Year competition, with Tom Bird of Derbyshire taking the overall title and the prize for best under 21-year old. The competitors were faced with five practical shepherding challenges and it was Tom (18), who is studying for a level 3 extended diploma in agriculture at Reaseheath College, Cheshire, who gained the most points. He narrowing beat fellow student Richard Bailey, who also attends Reaseheath and is from Aberystwyth; he was awarded second place.

School closures made the Inter-Schools Junior Shepherd competition impossible, but it is very positive that DART has agreed to run it in the coming months so the young agricultural students can still develop their shepherding skills.

There was a hive of activity in the seminar area all day long, with four highly important sheep industry topics covered by a variety of quality speakers. The programme kicked off with a look at the consumer’s view of lamb, followed by practical tips on protecting sheep from fly nuisance in the summer. A discussion about identifying sheep and recording movements drew the biggest crowd, while the future of stewardship seminar looked at the balance between food production and the environment. Other highlights included a hands-on Eblex area and a ‘make more of wool’ feature led by the British Wool Marketing Board.

Richard Wheeldon, NSA Central Region Chairman, says: “It was very satisfying for National Sheep Association office holders in this area to see visitors go away so satisfied from the event we organise as a regional committee. Everyone who attended left with extra information to aid their sheep farming business, and also with a sense of satisfaction at the positivity of the next generation of farmers, represented through a number of competitions for young people.

“In addition to the young shepherding competitions and a new photographic contest for under 17s, the quality of products designed and made from wool in the Schools Wool Challenge was remarkable. We know the future of our industry is in safe hands if the fashion designers and craftspeople of tomorrow can make such beautiful items from the wool our sheep produce.”

Full competition results:-

Young Shepherd of the Year: 1, Tom Bird, Derbyshire (also best under 21); 2, Richard Bailey, Aberystwyth; 3, Rob Morris, Shropshire; 4, Angus Priestley; 5, Ross Towers; 6, Stephen Taylor.
Inter-Schools Junior Shepherd: Postponed.
Schools Wool Challenge: 1, Hope Valley College; 2, St Thomas More Catholic School, Buxton; 3, Penistone Young Embroiderers.
Under 17s photographic competition: 1, Louis Foster (12); 2, Jake Birkenshaw (13); 3, Clara Payne (15).
Breed society stand: 1, North Country Cheviot Sheep Society; 2, British Charollais Sheep Society; 3, Suffolk Sheep Society.
Trade stand: 1, Rumenco; 2, British Wool Marketing Board; 3, Shearwell.

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