11th June 2017 saw the inaugural qualifier for the Suffolk Sheep Society's new National Youth Competition, at the Border Club Show, Wooler Mart, Wooler, Northumberland, by kind permission of Harrison & Hetherington and generously sponsored by CM Varley & Co. Ltd. The Club ran three classes for Young Handlers. The more informal junior 'Club' section saw enthusiastic entries and was well won by 12yo Keana Laing; her sister Beth in second place and Emily Denby 3rd. All three show great promise and will surely contest the new National Competition soon.
Held separately were the two ‘Suffolk National Youth’ classes, expertly judged by show judge Sandy Sutherland (Soutra Flock’). In addition to assessing sheep handling ability, Sandy asked pertinent questions in some depth - and was greatly impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of the young people forward.
In the under 16 year old section, showing great experience and maturity, 14 year old Archie Herdman from Edlingham Newtown, Alnwick, Northumberland proved a very worthy winner and recipient of the qualifying Certificate provided by the Border Club. Perhaps it was no coincidence that his father James was the runaway winner of the show’s fun stock-judging competition!
Archie was kindly lent a sheep; offered the choice from Roseden’s pen he selected a quality tup lamb, fetching him from the pen and up to the ring without assistance.
In the 16-26 year old section - also with Roseden connections, 22 year old Jennifer Nelson competed from Chatton, Alnwick. Together with her partner David Richardson,Jen runs a farming business and help Roseden on occasion so she is no stranger to the show ring.
However, she met strong competition from 15 year old Robert Denby from the Blackroots Flock, Longtown, Carlisle. Growing up with both his father’s sheep - and the Denby family’s 38 year old Carnforth Flock, Robert has Suffolks in his blood and clearly finds handling a sheep second nature.
Sandy Sutherland was so impressed with these two ‘seniors’ that he didn’t wish to split them - instead, awarding equal 1st prize; a popular decision which drew a spontaneous and enthusiastic round of applause from the many knowledgeable onlookers.
As a small Club – and the first ever to stage a National Final qualifier, we can be assured that these three talented young people will do themselves and the Border Club proud at the ‘Norbrook Laboratories Ltd’. Sponsored Final to be held at H&H Carlisle in November.