NSA Central Region Winter Fair celebrates young people in the sheep industry

25th January 2013

The NSA Central Region Winter Fair, held at Bakewell Agricultural Centre yesterday (24th January), proved to be a big success despite the wintery weather conditions not being in the event’s favour.

Visit our Facebook page for lots of pictures from the event.

NSA Central Region, led by Regional Chairman and Secretary Bob and Anne Payne, first held a Winter Fair in 2011 and were delighted to repeat the event in such a positive way in 2013, putting on an excellent array of demonstrations and competitions for sheep producers in the area.

Organiser Helen Davies said: “Despite the adverse weather conditions people turned out in force to support the event. This shows the determination of people and the interest in attending these specialist one day events.”

The event was a particular success in terms of championing and encouraging the young shepherds and sheep producers in the region. A range of competitions were co-ordinated specifically for youngsters, including an Inter-Schools Junior Shepherds Competition and Schools Wool Challenge, in addition to the usual NSA Young Shepherds Competition. 

Triumphant in the Young Shepherds Completion was Ellen Helliwell, who really proved her ability by also being the highest placed competitor under 21 years of age. Ellen (19) lives with parents Robert and Sarah and sister Alice at Upper Booth Farm, Edale, Derbyshire, which is a LEAF farm. She is in her final year of an Extended National Diploma in Agriculture at Reaseheath College, Cheshire, and would like to find a job in agriculture after spending some time in Australia or New Zealand to further develop her shepherding skills.

Joint second in the Young Shepherds competitions went to Richard Drewery of Penistone, South Yorks, a contract shepherd and shearer, and Alex Birch, who works on the family farm at Baslow, Derbyshire.

Displaying superb creative skills with wool, the team from Newbold Community School (Chesterfield, Derbyshire) won the Schools Wool Challenge, while a team from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (Ashbourne, Derbyshire) were first in the Inter-Schools Junior Shepherds Competition.

The Junior Shepherd competition was organised by Dales Agricultural and Rural Training (DART) for students studying for a Level One Diploma in Agriculture with them. Competitors worked in teams to demonstrate practical skills and knowledge of shepherding and the sheep industry. Ann Litchfield of (DART) said: “In the Inter-Schools competition the group that won were outstanding and dropped only two points, gaining 144 points out of a possible 146 and demonstrating fantastic handling skills and knowledge.”

John Geldard, NSA Chairman, said: “Having so many competitions at the event meant young people got to spend the whole day with us, gaining experience for themselves but also adding a tremendous amount to the event as a whole. There was a great atmosphere and a real buzz about the place. It was a great way to start 2013.”

For full competition results click here.

The focus on young people also ran through to the seminars, with particular interest in the CAP seminar about the need for incentives for young people. The case was made that problem was not the number of young people attracted to the industry, but ensuring steps on the ladder existed for them.

Phil Stocker spoke at the CAP seminar, alongside David Mottershead of Defra and Peter Garbutt of the NFU. Mr Stocker said: “The case was also strongly made that keeping money within the farming community led to greater economic activity, which had wider benefits. This brought up the definition of what was an ‘active farmer’ and if it right for substantial amounts of CAP monies to go to shareholders of national companies not associated with primary farming, or to landowners that were not involved in productive agriculture.”

A packed house was also present for the seminar on ‘Landscape, Leisure and Livestock – have we got the balance right?’, which focused on iconic landscapes and creating a better balance between farming activity public goods that are expected by society.

Mr Stocker said: “Although there is still work to do, particularly in ensuring better regional consistency of approaches, it seems the tide is turning with our conservation bodies and agencies agreeing that farming and farmers are a central part of the attraction of these areas, that sheep farming is a central part of the ecology of upland areas, and that stocking level reductions and removal have gone too far in many cases.

“Will we ever get the balance right? Probably not for everyone all of the time but public needs and wants can change remarkably quickly and the farming community has always demonstrated resilience and innovation whatever is asked of them.”

Given the seminars on liver fluke and British wool also attracted large crowds, NSA Chairman John Geldard said: “It was tremendous to see such good attendance at all the seminars, and just goes to show how much thought the event organisers had put into getting the right line-up of speakers and topics. This is true of the whole event and the NSA Central Region deserves a lot of credit for pulling together such an excellent day.”


Notes to editors:

  • For more information call Bob and Anne Payne, NSA Central Region Chairman and Secretary, on 01142 883241 or 07803 744437. Or email bobandanne@handbanktexels.wanadoo.co.uk.
  • The National Sheep Association is an organisation that represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK. It is funded by its membership of sheep farmers and its activities involve it in every aspect of the sheep industry. It is a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England (Registration No. 37818) and a registered charity in England and Wales (249255) and Scotland (SC042853).


The winning Junior Shepherds team from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.
Winning Young Shepherd Ellen Helliwell with parents Robert and Sarah. For more pictures visit our Facebook page.