Competitors from throughout the UK fought it out on Wednesday (July 18) in the final of the National Sheep Association (NSA) Next Generation Shepherd of the Year competition.

The contest was part of NSA Sheep Event 2018, held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern, Worcestershire, and attended by sheep farmers from all over the country.

Having qualified at 10 NSA regional heats, 15 competitors were put through their paces in six shepherding challenges.

Scoring the most points across the board and taking the prestigious title plus £1,000 prize money was 24-year-old Rob Walker of Brennand Farm, Clitheroe, Lancashire.

Rob is a partner in the family business running 1,300 Swaledale ewes, having previously studied at Newton Rigg College and worked as a self-employed shepherd.

He said: “I am really pleased to win this prize against some very strong competition.

"The whole event was very well organised and enjoyable to attend. It’s my second time competing at Malvern, so to take the top prize this time was a real honour”.

Second prize and winner of a new award from British Wool for the competitor with the highest score in the shearing element of the competition, was 25-year-old James Westacott from Cullompton, Devon.

Also recognised for her demonstration of excellent shepherding skills was Dafydd Davies, 18, from Bala, Gwynedd, awarded the title of best shepherd aged 21 and under. Dafydd was also fourth in the overall competition.

Other competitions

Another hard-fought contest took place at the event as teams of fencing specialists competed in the popular Tornado Wire fencing competition requiring a section of stock fencing to be erected to a professional standard in just three hours.

The winner this year was MJ Fencing of Leominster, Herefordshire, who had previously won the 2014 title.

Sheep Event

Away from the busy activity in the Sheep Event shepherding and fencing areas, the fleece competition featured a good number of entries in all classes.

Taking the champion fleece title was Davina Stanhope of Shropshire with a fleece entered in the lustre class. Davina's fleece now qualifies for the British Wool Golden Fleece Competition.

Completing the line-up of winners from the NSA Sheep Event 2018 were the many trade and breed society exhibitors who were presented with stand prizes for a high standard of display.

Best outdoor stand was Stow Agricultural, best indoor stand was MSD Animal Health, best breed society stand was the Texel Sheep Society, and the best pen of sheep on a stand was the Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders Association.

Sheep Event 2018 results

NSA Next Generation Shepherd of the Year:

  1. Rob Walker, Clitheroe (NSA Northern Region);
  2. and highest placed shearer, James Westacott, Cullompton (NSA South West Region);
  3. Sam Edwards, Truro (NSA South West Region);
  4. and highest placed 21-year-old and under, Dafydd Davies, Bala, (NSA Cymru/Wales Region);
  5. Rollo Deutsch, Chipping Camden (NSA Marches Region);
  6. Iain Wilson, Co. Antrim (NSA Northern Ireland Region).

Tornado Wire Fencing:

  1. MJ Evans Fencing;
  2. Tim Bennett Farm Fencing;
  3. Morgan Fencing.

Fleeces Champion: D. Stanhope, Shropshire;

Reserve: E. Owen, Conwy.

Fine(including Down, Down Cross & Portland):

  1. Y. Hoskins;
  2. D. Wilkins.

Medium (including Halfbred, Kent, Texel & Lleyn):

  1. R. Harding;
  2. R. Harding.

Cross (including Masham, Mule & Greyface):

  1. A.R. Wear;
  2. E. Owen.

Lustre (including Wensleydale, Lincoln, Devon, Cotswold & Bluefaced Leicester):

  1. D. Stanhope;
  2. T.H. Franklin.

Hill (including Radnor, Improved Welsh, Cheviot, Exmoor, Gritstone & Lonk):

  1. E. Owen;
  2. E. Owen.

Mountain(including Swaledale, Dalesbred, Blackface, Rough Fell & Welsh):

  1. R. Harding;
  2. R. Harding.

Natural Coloured (including Jacob, Herdwick, & Black Welsh Mountain or any other natural coloured purebred or crossbred fleece):

  1. E. Owen;
  2. B. & J. Knowles.

Outdoor trade stand:

  1. Stow Agricultural;
  2. Tornado Wire;
  3. Meadows Farm Vets.

Indoor trade stand:

  1. MSD Animal Health;
  2. Z Tags (Datamars Agri);
  3. Oliver Seeds.

Breed society stand:

  1. Texel Sheep Society;
  2. Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders’ Association;
  3. Blackface Sheep Breeders’ Association.

Best pen of sheep on a breed society stand:

  1. Welsh Mule Sheep Breeders’ Association;
  2. British Charollais Sheep Society;
  3. North of England Mule Sheep Association.