Something for everyone to learn within this year’s Sheep Section

 Lynne Grieve, the well-respected Livestock Fieldsperson at Borderway Mart, Carlisle, is Overall Sheep Section judge at this year’s Slaley Show on Saturday 12th April and heads up an impressive array of judges within the different breed sections.

 Zoe Hall will be judging Bluefaced Leicester’s and Mules; Caroline Hunter will be judging Texels; Amanda Watson will be judging Suffolk and Other Continentals; Susan Scott will be judging Mules and Prime Finished Lambs and Tess Wigham will be judging Rare Breeds. The section is expecting approx. 150 entries and promises to be a striking sight with breeds we are familiar with as well as some Rare Breed which may include Herdwicks, Jacobs, Teeswater, Kerry Hills and the Longwools like the Leicester Longwool.

 Lynne is the Overall judge who will pick her champion (to win the Perpetual Silver Cup presented by the late Mr J.B. Cross, Hexham) and reserve champion (to win the new Raymond Little Memorial Trophy) as well as Young Peoples Class for ages 17 and under.

 Lynne has lived all her life on a farm and sources livestock especially for the Mart with her keen eye and excellent judgment. “Each of the winners I’ll be looking at will have all the attributes representative of their breed so it will be difficult”. Ultimately, she will rely on her experience and gut instinct “The winner will be tip-top!” she says.

 Sheep Secretary Gemma Common from Hexhamshire and secretary ‘on the day’ Amy Gibson from Shotley Field have a great deal of experience and understanding of raising and competing.

 Gemma raises Texels “Its more than a job it’s a way of life” she explains while describing the tasks of a typical year “there is no quiet time, its full-on all the time!”. A keen competitor herself, she looks amongst her flock at a show time for an individual sheep with pricked ears, a sweet head, good skin, a good back end, being overall robust and solid and most importantly a ‘look at me look’ “she says. Gemma has successfully competed at the Roman Wall, Slaley,  St John’s Chapel in Alston shows and won overall champion at Allendale.

 Amy’s farming family produces Texels and Mules and she is a keen helper around many farms in the district with a creative interest and artistic application of wools.

.The Sheep Section that these young women have organised isn’t just competitive; they have spent time and energy encouraging competitors to create a section that is informative and educational with clear signage describing the different breeds, histories, their personalities and answering questions like which breeds are hefted to the land, like Welshies being out in the open in the wind and the rain and Texels needing to be closer to the farm; “There’s going to be something for everyone to learn” she says.  This is the 2nd year of their involvement running this section; and are keen to credit former sheep secretary Hazel Clark for her guidance.

 “We ultimately want to encourage youngsters to join in and learn to show “says Gemma “I enjoyed it so much when I was younger, it’s not about just winning, it’s very sociable, you learn a new skill, yes, but it’s also about making new friends and being part of something “she says.