STEPPING into the main arena this year as the Champion of Champion judge at Northumberland County Show, will be award-winning farmer Robert Neil.

On May 27, all eyes will be on Robert as he chooses the the ultimate winner from a line-up of champion livestock in the grand parade – which will include cattle, sheep, heavy horse and alpaca sections.

Robert has been a tenant farmer at Upper Nisbet near Jesmond since 2000, but has since allowed his business to expand by taking on two neighbouring farms

Currently he keeps 300 Limousin-cross cows, and farm 242ha of cereals. His herd of Limousin Friesians are the produce of the heifer calves from his brother’s dairy farm sired by a Black Limousin, and then crossed with a Limousin or Angus to create an excellent beef carcase.

Robert is also devoted to hosting regular school visits to his farm, where he can help children understand where their food comes from and gain knowledge about farming and the countryside.

He is also no stranger to the limelight, having been named Farmers Weekly ‘Farmer of the Year’ and ‘Mixed Farmer of the Year in 2017’, beating off 14 other finalists.

“I’m looking forward to judging at this year’s Northumberland County Show. It’s a real honour just to be asked,” said Robert.

“Shows such as these are important, because they provide a social event as well as a great place to do business, which is important because farming can be a very lonely job, and some farmers may never see each other apart from at the mart.

“Especially in these current times, when farmers feel under attack from all sides, agricultural shows and events also offer a shop window to the public, and give us a chance to show off what we do and produce.

“I think it’s important to stay positive, keep moving forward and keep encouraging the younger generation.”

In order to take home the top trophy on the day, Robert said he would be looking out for a special animal which had “the x-factor”, and ticked every box for him.

But he also wants to see passion and pride from its owner too.

County show director James Wardle said he was delighted to welcome Robert as a judge.

“Choosing the right person is very important for this role,” said James.

“It needs someone well respected within the industry, and with an eye for quality.

“Robert is a terrific all-rounder, with experience of dairy, sheep and beef farms, plus excellent equestrian credentials from Point to Point and hunting. He even has hens and four Kune Kune pigs”