Oxfordshire shearer Stuart Connor has broken the British record for the number of lambs sheared in nine hours - in memory of his three-year-old daughter Grace.
She was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, Mitochondrial Disease, and passed away one month later.
Stuart put his skills to the test on Saturday, September 21, with the aim of achieving both a World and British record. Although he was shy of Ivan Scott’s World record of 867, he beat the British record by four lambs with a final tally of 785.
Many supporters attended the event, which was hosted by Andy Wear at Fern Hill Farm, Compton Martin, and put on to raise money for Team Grace and The Lily Foundation.
Several farmers and businesses donated money per lamb shorn, whilst Mole Valley Farmers donated £850 in proceeds from a refreshment tent run on the day.
Mole Valley Farmers also provided the wood for the shearing platform. Stuart and wife Kira have also received donations from Young Farmers Clubs in Warwickshire. They are yet to tally up the final amount raised, but they predict it will be around £5,000.
The day was a mix of emotions for Stuart. The lambs did not shear as well as he had hoped due to the fact the sheep took a while to warm up on the 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 at the end on the nine hours, he initially thought he’d only beaten the record by one lamb. There was then a nail biting 15 minutes wait while the judges decided if that lamb had been shorn to requirements. It had, and when the final results were read out, he was in fact four lambs over.
“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,” he said. “It did get a bit emotional because of Grace.”
He was keen to thank all of his supporters and team of volunteers on the day who kept him hydrated, provided massages between rounds, dressed combs and collected wool.
“Thanks to everyone who turned up to support me. It’s a long half an hour that last half an hour. It makes a big difference with everyone cheering me on,” he says. “And thanks to the team of volunteers and sponsors, like Mole Valley Farmers. Without hem, it wouldn’t have happened.”
Stuart and Kira are set on continuing to raise money for the Lily Foundation in memory of Grace, with Stuart not quite ruling out 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: www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/lilyfoundation/teamgrace