The British sheep shearing record has been broken by a Banburyshire man – but the world record still beckons.
At 785 lambs, Stuart Connor has passed the British record for the number of sheep sheared in nine hours, set by Welshman Gareth Daniel in 2016, by four.
The professional sheep shearer, who has a shearing round in Banbury and lives in Little Bourton, took on the challenge in memory of his daughter, Grace, who died of mitochondrial disease last year.
Stuart put his skills to the test on September 21, breaking the national record, but falling shy of Ivan Scott’s world record of 867. The event was hosted by Andy Wear at Fern Hill Farm, in Compton Martin, and raised money for Team Grace and The Lily Foundation.
Money was donated by several farmers and businesses, including Mole Valley Farmers, which donated £850 from a refreshment tent on the day, and provided the wood for the shearing platform.
Stuart and wife, Kira, have also received donations from Young Farmers’ Clubs in Warwickshire. The amount raised is predicted to be around £5,000.
Stuart faced several difficulties which made his challenge harder. The lambs didn’t shear as well as he’d hoped because the sheep took a while to warm up on what was an unseasonably cold morning. This caused a build up of lanolin from the wool on the shears, slowing the process down.
On realising he wasn’t going to achieve a world record, he was set on beating the British.
When the bell rung on the nine hours, he initially thought he’d only beaten the record by one lamb. There was a nail biting 15 minutes wait while the judges decided if the lamb had been shorn to requirements. It had, and when the final results were read out, he was in fact four lambs over.
He said: “I felt relief for everyone else,” said Stuart, who’s current English National Champion shearer. “They had faith in me and my fitness, but it was very touch and go as they weren’t shearing very well. It did get a bit emotional because of Grace.”
He thanked all of his supporters and team of volunteers on the day who kept him hydrated, provided massages between rounds, dressed combs and collected wool.
He said: “Thanks to everyone who turned up to support me. It makes a big difference with everyone cheering me on.”
Stuart and Kira will continue to raise money for the Lily Foundation in memory of Grace, with Stuart considering aiming for the world record again. “There might be a bit of unfinished business there, but we’ll see,” he said.
Donations to The Lily Foundation can be made on the Just Giving Page at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/lilyfoundation/teamgrace/.
Find out more on the Stuart Connor – 9 Hour British Lamb Shearing Record Attempt Facebook page.
As well as his own shearing round, Stuart has his own 200-ewe flock of New Zealand Romneys.