WITH would-be members of the national team chasing the points, the county show’s sheep shearing competition was as hotly contested as they come.

Chester-le-Street-born, but Devon-based, Adam Garthwaite was a prime example of those prepared to travel for the cause. Fresh from his win at the Devon County show, he had driven up overnight, to arrive at Bywell at 6.30am on show day.

Later that morning, he betrayed no sign of fatigue as he saw off close competition to be anointed intermediate champion of show.

“Yes,” he acknowledged. “I’ve been travelling round, doing the England circuit, working towards getting on the (national) team.

“I’ve been on the circuit before, but I’m going for gold this year! I’d like to compete in the world championships one day.”

The World Sheep Shearing and Woolhandling championships this year will take place in France for the first time, in the Haute-Vienne departement at the beginning of July.

Much of the county show’s competition on Monday morning was devoted to nurturing an interest among young people and bringing the next generation of sheep shearers through the ranks.

Even in the youngest/novice categories, competitors had travelled from all over Britain to take part.

The winner of the junior championship was 18-year-old Stanley Hibbert, from Chorley in Lancashire.

Master of sponsors the Worshipful Company of Woolmen, Mark Johnson said: “We like to sponsor wool-handling events for young people, because it’s an important art and we want people to know that, as an activity, it is alive and well.”

Getting wins like this on their CVs helped young people win jobs, he added.