A SENIOR member of the church visited an auction mart to meet her extended flock.

The Bishop of Ripon Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley spent the morning in Leyburn as a guest of the town’s auction mart.

Bishop Helen-Ann, was able to do a tour of the site, beginning with the loading area where the young calves are brought in for sale.

She witnessed the judging of the ewes with their lambs and had the opportunity to enter one of the rings during the calf sales.

During her visit she enjoyed lunch and was also able to talk with many of the farmers and hear their stories.

Leyburn is one of ten chaplaincies established by the Farming Community Network.

These involve small teams of lay and ordained from the local churches who attend the marts on a weekly basis to listen to farmers.

Many cope with high levels of stress and are under pressures including from: death, disease and other disasters, not least poor weather conditions.

The Royal Benevolent Institute has made record levels of grants in the north to support farmers in difficulty, especially those who are having to borrow money to feed livestock.

Rt Rev Hartley said: “I had wanted to visit Leyburn Mart for some time, recognising that these marts are key places where farmers gather, and that far more goes on at these gatherings than the trading and judging of animals.

“Farming faces many challenges at this time, particularly in the light of the uncertainties around Brexit. We have many clergy in the Ripon Area, who are chaplains to action marts, and this is something that needs to be recognised and celebrated.”