IT was shear hard work when Hopes Auction Company in Wigton hosted their first Speed Shear.

Shearers travelled from across northern England and southern Scotland to clip their way to the winning podium position.

But the eventual winner came from overseas, with Michael Jefferies from New Zealand clipping in a phenomenal 28.39 seconds in his heat and 31.12 seconds in the final to take the winners podium position, narrowly ahead of his travelling colleague Kapua Brown at 33.53 seconds.

Both of these clippers are working with local shearing contractor Steven Watson, based at Caldbeck, who had helped prepare the Mule hoggs for the evening, provided by the Peile family at Greystoke Castle.

The most hotly-contested competition of the night was the highly anticipated all Cumbrian final with 15 local clippers took to the stand in the first round. Local clipping contractor and farmer Ashley Storey from Newbiggin, Kirklinton, led the class with a very fast qualifying clip at 31.61 seconds and final clip at 34.96 seconds. He narrowly beat Cockermouth based Ed Gate at 36.66 seconds. Ed had come from a big day clipping at Culgaith with his trailer mates for the day, Tom Blease and Jack Cartmel, fighting it out for third and fourth in the local championship with a time of 39.14 seconds for Tom taking third and 39.39 seconds for Jack taking fourth.

The early evening saw the Novices and Intermediates take to the boards. In the Novice clippers, local shepherd Alex Bland from Clea Hall, set a strong opening time of 42.11, seconds narrowly beating his fellow Herdwick breeder Craig Fearon at 51.05 seconds, and an extremely close third place for West Cumbria clipper, Adam Brown at 51.09 seconds.

The Intermediates were led by Dufton based Jack Wills from Fawcett Park with a very quick 37.62 seconds again just narrowly beating Cockermouth based Thomas Hird, who was travelling with a large supporting contingent, rewarding them with a very respectable 40.55 seconds. Third place travelled back to Penrith, with well-known shepherd Murray Craig from Thrimby Farms at 43.32 seconds.

The night was supported by Sponsors Burnetts Solicitors, Jack Cartmel Clipping Services and Dan Taylforth Sheep Scanning, as well as equipment provided by Highway Shearing at Skelton.

Planning for next year’s event is already underway.