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An Expert Eye for a Champion at Northumberland County Show
2012-02-28

Chairman of Hexham Auction Mart and Rothbury farmer, Jimmy Walton, will be selecting the cream of the crop from the livestock entries at this year’s Northumberland County Show.

Champion of Champion judge Mr Jimmy Walton

Jimmy Walton

As animals and beast of all shapes and sizes line up in the main arena to be judged in the Champion of Champions parade on Bank Holiday Monday, June 4, Jimmy, who farms at Flotterton, will be casting his expert eye over the grand finale for livestock exhibitors.

Having climbed the ranks at the mart after being appointed to the board of directors in 1984, Jimmy, who is also a former amateur jockey, served as Managing Director from 1989 to 2010, being appointed Chairman in 1998.

Active in the horse racing world until 2005, the highlight of Jimmy’s career was winning the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham on Mighty Mark in 1987. The horse, trained by his father Frank and owned by his mother, Heppy, went on to win the Scottish Grand National in 1988.

Horses remain a passion for show regular Jimmy, who is also Chairman of the Border Point to Point and the Ratcheugh Racing Club.

Jimmy farms at the Walton family farm, Flotterton, near Rothbury in partnership with his brother Frankie and with the help of his wife Claire and seven-year-old son Matthew. They run a mixed farm with 6,200 sheep consisting mainly of Blackface ewes and Cheviots, alongside small flocks of pedigree Texels and Suffolks. It is also home to more than 400 Angus cross suckler cows, which are crossed with Charolais and Angus bulls bought at the world famous Perth Bull Sales.

But it doesn’t stop there for the farm, which was the venue for the very first National Sheep Association North Sheep event in 1980 and the Northumberland Young Farmer’s County Rally in 1984

Jimmy said: “I’m extremely proud to be asked to judge the show’s Champion of Champion parade, especially this year, as it’s the show’s final outing at Tynedale Park in Corbridge.

“Whether as a spectator or an exhibitor, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed the show as it showcases the best of everything the county has to offer.”

The Grand Parade of Livestock is a highlight of the afternoon at the show and the new sponsor of the Champion of Champion Thomas Ridley Memorial Cup is J S Hubbuck of Hexham, Agricultural Merchants. Geoff Hubbuck of JS Hubbuck’s said he was pleased to support the Champion of Champions and be part of the final show at Tynedale Park as he and his family have been so closely involved with the show for over 50 years

Meanwhile, Hexham MP Guy Opperman has been named as the judge of the Light Horse Championship in the ever-popular horse section.

The barrister, who is an amateur jockey and has several wins at point to points under his belt, has also taken part in fundraising for the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Other notable judges for 2012 include Chairman of the Poultry Club of Great Britain, David Sill, from West Yorkshire who will be judging the True Bantam and Waterfowl classes in the poultry section, which was promoted to Regional status for the first time last year.

“The calibre of the judges we are able to attract is a credit to our members and volunteers who work hard to make the show happen, as well as the exhibitors who bring along top quality livestock each and every year,” said Show Chairman, David Carr.

Schedules for the event are now available and can be downloaded from the exhibitors section of the website at www.northcountyshow.co.uk

Copies are also available by sending a SAE to The Secretary, Northumberland County Show, Hexham Auction Mart, Tyne Green, Hexham, NE46 3SG.

LIVESTOCK JUDGES FOR 2012:

Horse Section
Agricultural Horses: George Skinner, Pitcaple, Inverurie. Heavy Horse turnouts: Ruth Skinner MBE, Pitcaple, Inverurie. Hunters Conformation: Edward Chinn, Morpeth, Northumberland. Ridden Hunters, Craig Anderson, Chathill, Alnwick. Hunter Breeding-in-hand: Kath Wilson, Barnard Castle, Durham. Working Hunter Horse: Anne Redpath, Longhorsely, Morpeth. Working Hunter Horse: Adam Forster, Stamfordham, Northumberland. Side Saddle (& CHAPS): Jo Jefferson, Darley, Harrogate. Show Hunter Pony: Karen Slight, Oxton, Berwick. Working Hunter Pony: Mrs P Potter, Danby, Whitby. Working Hunter Pony: Mrs K Horner, Whitby, North Yorkshire. Heritage Open Ridden: Sheila Clark, Haddington, East Lothian. Heritage M&M WHP: Fiona Cameron, Melrose, Roxburghshire. Light Horse Championship: Guy Opperman, Hexham, Northumberland.

Sheep Section           
Blackface: Neil Robson, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland. Swaledale: Peter Lightfoot, Penrith, Cumbria. North of England Mule Sheep: John Park, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire. Bluefaced Leicesters: Stephen Crozier, Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire. Continental Sheep: Robert Stephenson, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland. Texel: Robert Laird, Biggar, Lanarkshire. Suffolk: S J Buckley, Buxton, Derbyshire. Zwartbles: Mark Shadwick, Carlisle, Cumbria. Interbreed Champion and Group / Best Wooled Sheep: Mr J A Park, Roxburghshire.

Cattle Section                                   
Holstein: Richard Lucas, Blackburn, Lancs. Any Other Dairy Breed: Jimmy Irving, Dalston, Carlisle. Interbreed Champion and Calf Classes: Willy Templeton, Mauchline, Ayreshire. Any Other Pedigree Native Beef Breed: Mr Ross, Shawhead, Dumfries. British Blue: Mr A Ryder, Carlisle, Cumbria. Any Other Pedigree Continental Beef Breed: Mrs J Crozier, Carlisle. Commercial Beef: Mr K Ludgate, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. Dexter: Pam Weaver, Gloucester. Highland Cattle: Mr D Mitchell, Stainland, Halifax. Limousin: Mr S Dodd, Penrith, Cumbria. Longhorn: Steve Gray, Coddington, Ledbury. Hereford: William Livesey, Normanton-le-Heath, Coalville. Overall Beef Cattle Champion and Interbreed Group of Three Beef Cattle: Mr J Gibb, Stocksfield, Northumberland. Young Handlers: John Mitchell, Matfen, Northumberland.

Poultry
Trues and Waterfowl: David Sill, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Eggs: Hazel Sill, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Hard feather: Edward Parkin, Barnard Castle, County Durham. Soft feather: Chris Birtwell, Ripponden, Halifax.

Alpacas: Jay Holland, Tirley, Gloucestershire. Goats: Mrs M Hardman, Sheffield. Cavies: Peter Wardman, Pudsey, Leeds.

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Northumberland County Show