THE secretaries of two sheep shows teamed up to put on an alternative event, after their own shows were cancelled this summer due to the coronavirus crisis.

They came up with the unique alternative to the usual traditional sheep shows, both of which were due to have taken place in the last week of May, with farmers submitting photos of their prized animals for judging.

The Tan Hill & Eastgate Alternative Swaledale Sheep Show took place on Friday, May 29, via social media, with the photographs online for competitors to view.

Raymond Calvert, secretary of the Tan Hill Swaledale Sheep Show, said: "It was such a shame to miss out on shows for 12 months, so I joined forces with the secretary, Paul Collinson, of the Eastgate Swaledale Sheep Show, to provide an alternative event.

"Farmers were invited to send in photographs of their entries with ten classes available similar to what would normally be organised. We tried to run it like a normal show."

The pictures were assembled online by the two secretaries and then John Stephenson, retiring secretary of the Swaledale Sheep Breeders' Association, had the difficult job of judging the classes and picking the winners. It is the first time in the Swaledale Sheep Breeders' Association’s 100-year history, which is celebrated this year, that a show has been organised in such a way.

Categories included ewe, gimmer shearling, gimmer hogg, aged tup, tup shearling and tup hogg, representing each of the five Swaledale districts. A cup was presented to the supreme champion, a gimmer shearling from M and L Rukin, of West Stonesdale, Swaledale; reserve supreme champion, an aged tup from Bell, Brown and Burcroft Farms, with a prize for the champion tup hogg out of the five classes, which went to J and JE Bradley, of Settle.

Raymond said: "It has been a fantastic success, and we've had an unbelievable amount of interest, with a total of 81 photographs sent in altogether from 36 individual exhibitors. It's been well supported by local people through the dale and from the surrounding dales, as well as from people far and wide who have sent in their photographs."

"Folks have really appreciated it. We hoped it would help to take their minds of things and it has also given an insight into where the top sheep are in the Swaledale area."