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A bright future for the next generation

Winners of British Wool’s competition have been taking full advantage of the Training and Development programme designed to support the next generation of shearers and wool handlers.

The 2023 competition saw some strong entries with the winners awarded places on the programme which includes machine shearing (two courses), gear training and wool handling. The winners will also visit British Wool’s head office in Bradford to learn more about the wool processing chain. 

England winner Tilly Abbott started her year in May with a shearing course instructed by Ed Odell at Ferndale Farm in Norfolk which, she says, set her up for her own shearing season. Suffolk-based Tilly already had basic shearing skills, so the course enabled her to develop her technique further and build her confidence.

Having achieved a blue seal in 2022 Tilly had the bronze seal in her sights. “Sometimes it felt like one step forward two steps back however, at the end of the second day I was flying and was so pleased to obtain my bronze seal.”

Improvements have continued since the course as she has gained more experience with smallholding shearing across East Anglia. “I especially saw a difference when shearing breeds such Rylands and Southdowns due to setting my gear up appropriately along with a good undercut, better handling techniques and keeping my comb full and flat.

“I am thoroughly looking forward to the rest of the season along with getting plenty more practice on more commercial flocks and attending some novice competitions.”

Wales winner Dominie Chetwynd from Crickhowell also wasted no time getting started with her training attending two courses in Herefordshire before the end of May.

“My goal over the second course was to make the most of my experience with a view to achieving my Blue Seal so that I could compete at the Brecknock YFC rally. I’m very grateful to both instructors who added to the experience – both were fantastic and hugely knowledgeable.”

After the second course Dominie was indeed awarded her Blue Seal and was able to compete at the YFC rally which she had set her heart on. She says: “Unbelievably I won the ladies shearing section at the rally!” Dominie went on to win fourth place in the wool handling too.

“With experience under my belt I have joined a local shearing gang who I roll wool for. When there is a free stand, they have provided me with the opportunity to get up and shear a few. I’ve had great support from my family and friends and I’m looking forward to building on my knowledge and abilities and seeing what the future brings!”

Supporting future sheep shearers and wool handlers continues to be an important part of British Wool’s role, says Gareth Jones, Head of Member Engagement. “We are delighted that Tilly and Dominie have benefitted so much already from our training and development programme. They are both developing their skills and experience and I’m sure will have a bright future ahead of them.”

For more information on British Wool’s shearing and wool handling courses visit

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A bright future for the next generation Left: Tilly Abbott Right: Dominie Chetwynd
Left: Tilly Shearing Right: Dominie Shearing