Oldest sheep judge seems set to leave the show ring

Judge George Strachan at the Jacob Sheep Society Northern Region Open Day.
Judge George Strachan at the Jacob Sheep Society Northern Region Open Day.
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Expert sheep judge George Strachan may finally have called time on his long service at the age of 93.

The veteran Jacob breeder, who has judged 124 national and county shows throughout Britain, was believed to have been the oldest judge operating in the UK.

But the Morpeth man says he could now have made his final appearance in the show ring after taking part in the Jacob Sheep Society Northern Region Open Day at Whowells Farm in Lancashire last month.

Fittingly, as he passes on the baton to a younger generation, his last event was to lead a seminar of judges, showing them how the job is done.

Mr Strachan agreed to rate the Jacobs ahead of a sheep judging competition for the delegates, with all those matching his classification going into a prize draw.

The former auctioneer then gave feedback as to how and why the sheep were placed, giving an invaluable insight into what a judge looks for in the show ring.

He also gave a short talk on preparing sheep for showing and how to present them to the judges.

Mr Strachan said: “This was a learning course to keep the judges up to date, but also to teach members of the public.

“It was quite an honour to be asked to speak, but I have judged all kinds of competitions over the years, from auctioneers to young farmers, the list is as long as your arm. I’ve been all over the place.

“Now it has been suggested that there should be a maximum age of 70 for judges.

“I don’t know if it will be passed, but I probably won’t carry on anyway as I’m not as fit as I used to be.

“I have enjoyed it though.”

Mr Strachan was General Manager and Senior Auctioneer for T&I Maughan when it operated five weekly stock markets in the region.

He worked at the Irish Mart and Wansbeck Mart in Morpeth, as well as at Acklington, Newcastle, Gateshead and later Tyneside mart.

He has also been a member of Morpeth Rotary Club for 48 years, including a term as President in 1975, and has been awarded the organisation’s Paul Harris Fellowship and International Award for services to the community.