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Stackyard News Mar 2011

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Michael Aynsley – Just Champion

A renowned and highly respected farmer from Rothbury, Northumberland, Michael Aynsley from The Lee Farm, will be the Northern Farmer ‘Champion of Champions’ judge in the spotlight at this year’s Northumberland County Show.

Michael Aynsley at Wards Hill

Michael Aynsley at Wards Hill

This year will be the 30th County Show at Tynedale Park, Corbridge and the highlight of the day as always will be the Grand Parade of winning livestock in the main arena. This always attracts a large crowd and Michael says his final decision will be a difficult one as the event attracts an excellent show of stock from farms across the North of England and the Borders.

Michael is looking forward to his day at the show and will draw on his lifetime of experience when he selects “The Northern Farmer Champion of Champions”. He says his Champion will need to “have good mobility, character and sharpness with a spark that catches the eye”. The winner will receive £100 cash plus the Thomas Ridley Memorial Cup.

Michael has had years of experience with sheep and beef cattle. He also has a love for horses having hunted with the Morpeth Hunt, ridden in hunter trials and team chases and farmed with shire horses. Milking Dairy Cows and shearing both Angora goats and alpacas has given him an extensive knowledge of all types of livestock.

He has judged many livestock shows including Smithfield, the Royal Show, the Royal Welsh and the Royal Highland. He was invited to meet the Queen after judging the North Country Cheviots at the Royal Highland but was relieved when she did not ask him how her sheep had performed in the judging ring. Having met Prince Charles and Princess Anne, Michael commented how knowledgeable and passionate the Royal Family are about British Livestock.

Michael was born and bred at the Lee Farm and is well known throughout the North of England as an excellent stockman. Farmed in partnership with his son Paul and daughter in law Susan the Lee Farm has 1300 North Country Cheviot Ewes and 150 Simmental cross cows crossed with Limousin Bulls. They also run an award winning bed and breakfast.

Michael Aynsley is a quiet man but his achievements are many, and he makes no secret of his love of sheep shearing having learnt to hand shear at fourteen and only starting to use a clipping machine at the age of thirty five. He was rightly proud of being crowned best individual international shearer at the Royal Highland Show five years after learning to shear with a machine. He is now an accomplished world shearing judge having been one of the few people from the UK to judge the World Shearing Championships in New Zealand.

He still shears 150 sheep a day at clipping time and plans to hang up his clippers when he reaches his 80th birthday in twelve months time.

Being a frequent visitor to the Northumberland County Show, Michael spends much of his day watching the Horner Shearing Competition. The Society is proud to be part of the British Shearing circuit where overall winners go on to the World Championship.

Michael is honoured to be selected as the judge for The Northern Farmer Champion of Champions, 2011 and is looking forward to his day at the show. He has no plans for retirement from farming and still “puts a full day’s work in”; his recipe for a happy life is “hard work and good neighbours”.

Show Chairman David Carr said “it is an honour to have Michael Aynsley as the Championship judge – he is a renowned stockman and the interest shown in the Grand Parade and Championship judging has become a highlight of the show”
Northumberland County Show 2011 is on Monday, May 30 at Tynedale Park, Corbridge, 9am-6pm, free parking and easy access on the train from Carlisle and Newcastle.

Schedules are available to download at or send a sae to the Show Office, Hexham Mart, Tynegreen, Hexham, NE46 3SG, stating which schedule you require.

Discounted advance tickets for the Show are available online at, tel 0845 230 5177.

link Beef Expo 2011 to Host Expanded Prime Spectacular
link Northumberland County Show Schedules Released
link Awards for Yorkshire Farm Stay Members at Marmalade Highlight

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