A STANDOUT season in the show arena continued for County Durham mother and daughter, Julie and Anna Pennell.

The pair from Todd Fall Farm, Redworth, near Darlington, took the championship and reserve championship at the 127th annual Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders Association show and sale at Skipton Auction Mart.

Earlier in the season, Anna, the association’s secretary, had sent out a Clun Forest shearling ewe to secure the breed championship, then the Interbreed Supreme Sheep championship at the Royal Welsh Show.

At Skipton it was the turn of their Nipna flock, established a decade ago, to shine.

The title winner was the first-prize shearling ram and male champion, Nipna Oak, which had earlier won its class at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show.

By Bedale breeder Ernie Sherwin’s Nosterfield Supreme, out of a Providence Pete-bred West End dam, the victor commanded top price of the day when selling for 560gns to Nicki and Pete Hodkinson, of Cheadle.

Judge Tom Gorst, from Sedbergh, then made their first-prize ewe lamb and female champion as his overall reserve.

A daughter of Endrigs Norman, from Scottish breeder John McHardy’s flock, out of a Nosterfield Olympian-bred Leaston dam, the reserve champion joined Declan Leonard, of Bramley, for 320gns.

Mr McHardy, from Cupar, had the first-prize and best-fleshed ram lamb, and reserve male champion. His home-bred son of Endrigs Comet, out of a Princethorpe Harry’s Bar-sired ewe, sold for 110gns to Mark Elliott, Ferrensby. He also sent out the second prize ram lamb, again by Comet, which made 80gns when joining Ernie Sherwin in Bedale.

The first-prize shearling ewe and reserve female champion came from John and Shelagh Prescott’s West End flock in Longhorsley, Morpeth. Although unsold, the Prescotts did make 250gns with a home-bred shearling ewe by West End Harry.

The second-prize shearling ewe from Mark Elliott’s Providence flock at Ferrensby, near Knaresborough, a daughter of Gedgrave Cyril, sold for 250gns to T Baldwin, of Bretherton. Mr Elliott was also runner-up in the shearling ram class with another Gedgrave Cyril son sold for200gns to AM&L Bell, of Northallerton.

In the ram lambs, Nick Oliver, who runs the Carperby Pastures flock near Leyburn, was third with a Princethorpe Carlsberg son which sold for 200gns to Lady Hilary Menzies, of East Lothian.

He also finished third in the ewe lamb show class with a Carlsberg daughter sold at 200gns to Julie and Anna Pennell.

Top prices and averages: shearling rams to 560gns (av £213), shearling ewes to 250gns (£182), ram lambs to 200gns (£118), ewe lambs to 320gns (£201).

Secretary Anna Pennell said there had been a small, yet steady increase in the numbers of Wensleydale lambs registered each year over the last five years.

She said: “While the breed does remain on the RBST Watch list, there are currently extremely high levels of demand from crafters and spinners for the raw fleece, with the Wensleydale commanding the highest prices both from the Wool Board and privately.

“Indeed, many breeders are finding themselves selling raw fleeces both in the UK and overseas with ease at premium prices, often well in excess of £100 a fleece, and with a demand much greater than can be fulfilled.

“There is also continued use of the large framed Wensleydale rams over native breeds to add size and quality to cross-bred progeny and breeders are also turning to the growing market demand for naturally grown, British rare breed meat from restaurants, farm shops and the private consumer.”