Sheep tales and spinning yarns get snappy!

The Sheep Tales and Spinning Yarns project has announced the winners of its photographic competition to find the images that best reflect shepherding life at the beginning of the 21st Century.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 18th July 2012, 7:24 am

William Comber, with a picture of his grandfather on his farm, and Bert Keller’s image of spring lambing, were judged to have best captured the essence of life on our local farms today.

Since its successful launch last year the Sheep Tales project, managed by community arts organisation ‘Think Make Grow’, in partnership with the North Northumberland Mission Partnership of the United Reformed Church and funded by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), has been building an historic archive.

The winning images will now be now be added to the huge number of materials already collected.

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As winner of the Under 18 competition, 12-year-old William Comber won £15 for himself as well as a contribution for his nominated prize winner - Erskine United Reformed Church.

He took his image of his grandfather Robin Reay at the family farm in Elwick near Belford. Describing his photo William said: “This is my grandpa enjoying the sun on his back - at last, after a long hard lambing. He is checking this lamb has a tummy full of milk. We lamb 474 ewes late April into May to try and catch the good weather, although we didn’t this year!”

A young farmer in the making, William enjoys helping on the farm and has his own black ewe Skippy, He added: “Being a shepherd is very
hard work but it is rewarding on days like this!”

Judge Peter Ayres of Wooler Camera Club commented: “I chose this photo because it encapsulates the old and the new of sheep farming. Set in idyllic surroundings, the photograph has captured the shepherd, crook in hand, going about his business of tending to a newborn lamb.

The photograph is well composed and of very good quality. It has caught a classic sheep-farming moment - even to the extent of the lamb in the foreground running to its mother just in case the shepherd turns his attention on him!”

The winner of the Open Competition was Bert Keller who took an image of lambing at Roddam with shepherd Doz Donovan and young helper Jessie Arrington.

His nominated prizewinner was Wooler URC which took a £20 prize with £30 going to Bert himself.

Commenting on Mr Keller’s work, the judge said: “This photograph has bags of impact. The moment of birth has been captured magnificently. One newborn lamb has been delivered and another is in the process of being delivered.

“Furthermore the “shepherd” in this case is a young girl who is being helped in the task of bringing new life to the world by older helping hands. A classic example of how shepherding traditions are passed on from generation to generation.

“To me this photograph depicts the essence of shepherding - both in the wordily sense and the biblical sense. I really enjoyed it on a variety of levels.”

Now the winners, along with all the competition entries, will be considered for inclusion in an archive of photos to be kept by Berwick Archives for generations to come.

During 2012, the Sheep Tales and Spinning Yarns website, along with various venues in the Cheviot area, will be exhibiting photographs old and new. New contributions to the archive are welcome, from old or new photographs of shepherding life, to old cine reel, stories or objects connecting with shepherding.

As project co-ordinator Anna Turnbull explained: “As time moves on, shepherding is changing and our heritage is disappearing.

“It is important that this is not lost, but collected and recorded for future generations.”