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Champion shepherd Ray dies at age of 92
A CHAMPION shepherd and countryman who spent more than 60 years patrolling the dales with his trusty sheepdogs has died aged 92.
George Raymond Dent, known as Ray, died peacefully at Cross Hills Care Home, in Stanhope, Weardale, County Durham, last month.
He was born in Middleton-in- Teesdale in 1919, but moved to Glenwhelt Farm, above Westgate, when he was ten.
Apart from three years in the Army during the Second World War, which included two years in the Far East, Mr Dent spent his life in Weardale and on his 3,000 acres of moorland, where he raised Swaledale sheep.
His son, Ian, who is the third generation of his family to run the farm, said: “He was a farmer long before we had quad bikes. We called it welly power back then.
“He was always super fit and walked for miles to get his sheep, he was a true countryman, and farming was his passion, not just his job.”
Ian Dent joined his father farming at a young age and he said he never tired of his company.
He said: “I played with him, worked with him and lived with him. I saw him every day for my 62 years of life, and while we had discussions, we never argued. He was a good man, always loved and never hated, and he would help anyone who asked.”
Mr Dent was well respected and farmed Swaledales well into his 70s.
He was a member of the Weardale Agricultural Show Society since he was 14 and in 1968 co-founded Weardale and Teesdale Mountain Search and Rescue Team.
In 1978, he received national publicity and had a book written about him, called The Shepherd’s Year, after being named the national shepherd champion.
He also received the British Empire Medal for services to agriculture – a reward for his years of showing, selling and judging sheep and sheepdogs as well as his farm work.
He married Lena Thompson, from St John’s Chapel, in the 1940s, who died 19 years ago, and leaves children Ian and Glennis, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.