CUT ABOVE: Matthew Davidson, from Eggleston, attended the course so that he can clip his own small flock
CUT ABOVE: Matthew Davidson, from Eggleston, attended the course so that he can clip his own small flock

SOME 19 young farmers proved they are a cut above after honing their sheep shearing skills through courses arranged by Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (Utass).

The farming charity has arranged shearing training sessions for the past 15 years, which has seen more than 100 people improve their skills.

British Wool Marketing Board trainers Bill Mason and Brian Copeland provided lessons in safety checks, equipment maintenance and shearing technique.

The training was made possible through cash from Teesdale Action Partnership’s up-skilling, employability and discretionary skills fund.

Several of those who attended were doing so for a second time.

Julia Stephenson of Utass said: “It is giving them an opportunity to go away and shear more sheep and come back to improve their technique.

“It also gives them the opportunity to shear for other people and earn some extra income.”

The training took place at John and Faye Hutchinson’s Hill House Farm, near Woodland, with trainees practicing their technique on the farm’s flock of Mule and Texel ewes.

George Wilson, from Lunedale, said: “I’ve learned a lot. I am going slower, but shearing the sheep quicker.

“I was doing it in 35 to 40 blows, but really it should take 26. I am down to 28 blows, so it is a massive improvement.”

Mr Wilson attended a course about three years ago but came back for a refresher because he had “lost the technique”.

Matthew Davidson, who started keeping a flock of ten sheep on a small-holding in Eggleston two years ago, said: “I just need to learn how to clip them and then I can do everything myself.”

Along with the sheep shearing students, two other young farmers benefitted from the up-skilling, employability and discretionary skills fund, by attending a chainsaw training course in June.

Mrs Stephenson said: ““For anyone looking for essential qualifications to enable them to gain employment, whether full or part time, this is a brilliant opportunity to get fully funded training.”

Adam White of TAP added: “Prospective new employers, looking to engage suitably qualified employees, could also benefit as they can direct potential employees towards the project, if they are lacking relevant qualifications.”

To apply for funding contact project officer Denise Hopps on 01388 443078 or email denise.hopps

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