Sheep shearing competition success

Malcolm Sweeney watched by sister Claire photographer Lydia Hill SUS-140108-094725001
Malcolm Sweeney watched by sister Claire photographer Lydia Hill SUS-140108-094725001

The second Southern Shears UK sheep shearing competition took place on Sunday July 13 at Holmbush Farm, Faygate.

Southern Shears UK was started in 2013 by a small group of farmers, shearers and enthusiasts. The competition aims to promote the skill of sheep shearing and to bring the local farming community together.

The competition has grown from 23 competitors in 2013 to 35 in 2014, including seven lady shearers. Shearers came from as far away as New Zealand and Australia.

This year Southern Shears UK is a BISCA (British Isles Shearing Competition Association) registered competition. Sponsors of the competition include the National Sheep Association, the British Wool Marketing Board and the National Farmers’ Union.

This year the Open Class was supported by new sponsor Wairere UK New Zealand Romneys, based in Washington, Pulborough.

The Open Class was won by New Zealander Cam Hicks,23, who sheared 20 lambs in 18 minutes 3 seconds. Sheep shearing is judged on a combination of speed and quality of work.

Malcolm Sweeney from Heathfield, placed fourth with a time of 20 minutes and 59 seconds, won the Alan Kensett Cup for Cleanest Pen. The prize is awarded to the person with the most neatly shorn sheep.

New this year were the Senior and Intermediate Classes. Cam Hicks also won the Senior Class. The RAPPA Intermediate Class was won by Charlie Parry from Powys, Wales. Parry also won the Junior Class.

Jolene Cutting from Rye stormed to victory in the Ladies Class with a five point lead over her nearest rival Marie Prebble from Canterbury, Kent. Jolene shears 10,000 sheep a year and has a personal best of 251 in one day.

The Blades Class had four competitors, doing their bit to preserve the ancient skill. The class was won by George Mudge, 67, from Devon, a member of the England Blades shearing team.

The competition includes a Novice Class to encourage new entrants to the skill and those who only shear a few sheep each year. This class was won by left handed shearer Jack Mighall, 19, from Surrey.

The competition was very much a family affair. Sister of open shearer Malcolm Sweeney, Claire Sweeney, a qualified vet at Cliffe Veterinary Group, Lewes, came second in the Junior Class and third in the Ladies Class. The Novice Class saw father and son Subash and Clem de Menezes from Balcombe battling it out, placed fifth and sixth respectively.

Shearers were supported by their families. Andrew Pannell from Worthing, placed third in the Intermediate Class, was watched by his partner Anna Pickton and six month old daughter Lily Pannell. Open class shearer Ed Gingell was also supported by his wife Emily and two year old daughter Molly.

Sheep shearing is an extremely demanding activity requiring high levels of fitness and skill.

The British Wool Marketing Board is seeking to get competitive sheep shearing recognised as a sport.