Shear bliss for Heathfield winner

Open Winner Ed Gingell
Open Winner Ed Gingell

A Heathfield sheepshearer fleeced the opposition by taking first place in a top South Eastern competition.

Ed Gingell, 28, from Waldron, sheared 20 sheep in 17 minutes to win new competition Southern Shears UK - a new group sponsored by the National Farmers’ Union and the National Sheep Association.

The competition took place at Holmbush Farm,Faygate, West Sussex. There was a novice, junior, open, blades and ladies class and the competition attracted 23 shearers including seven ladies. The judge said he had never seen as many lady shearers!

Ed, who is married with a little girl has 250 ewes of his own grazing on land at Maynards Green and Five Ashes, competed alongside local contractors with competitors ranging in age from 19 to 69.

The open class for the most experienced shearers saw 11 professionals battling to be winner of the Holmbush Farm World Cup. The highlight of the day was the open final where Ed, Malcolm Sweeney, 31 (also from Heathfield) and Cam Hicks, 22, from New Zealand, each sheared the amazing tally of 20 sheep in sizzling temperatures. Ed, who trained at Plumpton College, was the out and out winner. Bonnie Morrison, from New Zealand, had the highest annual tally shearing 80,000 sheep a year.

The novice class for non professional shearers saw six graduates of the sheep shearing course at Plumpton College shear two sheep each. Competitors included Ruth Carroll, a qualified hairdresser from Eastbourne, and Robert Robertson, 69, from Lewes, a retired computer programmer and smallholder. The winner was Luke Williamson, 26, a dairyman from Lindfield.

In the ladies class, Jo Cutting from Rye, whose personal best is 250 sheep shorn in one day, was beaten by Susie Parish, sheep and alpaca shearer from Hampshire.

The blades class promoted the traditional skill of hand shearing. Two entrants, George Mudge, 66, from Devon ,and Forty Bush from Wiltshire both represent England in the World Bladers Shearing Competition. The class was won by Forty Bush.

Vice chair and shearing contractor Rob Morris from Rye said: “We achieved what we set out to achieve, to promote shearing in the South East and encourage more people to enter shearing.

Chair of Southern Shears and Plumpton College lecturer, Phil Hart said: “The highlght was seeing novice shearers being first on the stand after watching a thrilling 20 sheep open final, inspired and and full of enthusiasm to help shear the remaining 40 sheep. Shearers from all classes joined in to help out.”