THE team behind the North of England Blackface Sheepbreeders’ Association pulled out all the stops for North Sheep 2019 and were rewarded with the trophy for the Best Breed Society Stand.

“We were over the moon,” said secretary Rachel Raine, of Townfoot, West Woodburn.

“It takes so long to set up, we went down the day before, but we’d been organising it, pulling it all together for about a month beforehand.”

Rachel and the breed association’s new chairman, Birtley farmer Nick Walton, hadn’t seen the judges coming round – they didn’t even know who they were – and so it had come as a complete surprise when the results were announced.

“I know why we won, though,” she said.

“It will be because there’s loads of information on the stand, all about the quality of the sheep.

“It’s about showing off our breed to other farmers – the stand is our shop window.”

This year’s North Sheep, held at New Hall Farm, near Settle in North Yorkshire, has been declared one of the best yet.

More than 5,000 people travelled from all points of the compass to hear seminars on key issues, such as sheep exports, share farming, sheep health and welfare, and the future for Environmental Land Management Schemes, and to take part in the Young Farmers stock judging competition and a shearing competition sponsored by British Wool.

There was also the popular Next Generation Shepherd competition. This year, 15 entrants competed for the Ali Johnson Perpetual Trophy, named in honour of the Plenmeller young farmer who died in 2008, at the age of 28, four years after he was paralysed in a collapsing rugby scrum.

The winner this year was Matthew Fearon, from Keswick.

Alston farmer Thomas Carrick, who is chairman of North Sheep, said he was delighted at how this year’s show had gone.

“I would really like to thank the hosts, the Frankland family, for their hard work and commitment to this year’s event.

“It was a very good day out and the highlight, for me, was the Farm Tour. Their stock is a credit to the hard work of the entire family. This is a family farm, and family farms such as this are at the core of the industry.

“The seminars gave fantastic business advice and, as anticipated, people were really there to look, listen and learn, and this has never been so evident as in those seminars.”

The fact all sectors of the industry had been represented across the breeds societies and trade stands had been particularly satisfying.