Sheep shearing at the Great Yorkshire Show will have a ‘new look’ this year, with the introduction of a class specifically for women shearers.
Entitled ‘The Great Yorkshire Ladies Class,’ it has drawn entries from across the region and in particular from Yorkshire.
More than 135,000 visitors are expected to flock through the gates for England’s premier agricultural event, which runs from Tuesday 8 to Thursday 10 July at the 250 acre showground on the edge of Harrogate. The shearing section has competitive classes and demonstrations on all three days and always draws the crowds. Entries come from across the world including top shearers from New Zealand and Australia, as well as British champions, competing for the championship awards.
Richard Schofield, the section’s Chief Steward explained: Sheep shearing is an important part of farm life and it is important that we encourage women as much as men to participate and demonstrate their shearing skills. There are a lot of good lady sheep shearers in the region so it made sense to include the class.
One competitor who already has her entries in, is 23 year old Alice Petch (pictured), from Stokesley. Alice learnt her trade when she was 18 and has been shearing for five years and explained how her interest began
Alice said: I’ve taken part in shearing competitions before, but never a class confined to women.
I’m looking forward to it; I think it is a really positive step to recognise the increasing number of women shearers.
Nigel Buckle, who is now my shearing partner, always sheared our sheep and suggested I give it a go. My Dad didn’t think I would be able to do it so I’m pleased I could prove him wrong!
Following this introduction, Alice attended a course run by the British Wool Marketing Board and now her shearing average is 160 sheep per day.
No stranger to the Great Yorkshire Show, Alice has previously competed in equine as well as shearing classes at the three day countryside Showcase.
As well as the individual and team competitions, there are shearing classes for young farmers, veterans, and students from agricultural colleges as well as a Test Match – England v New Zealand. The ladies class takes place on Wednesday.