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Katie wins place on British Wool development programme

Katie Grist from Devon has won a place on British Wool’s 2023 Training & Development programme courtesy of sponsorship provided by local company Southdown Duvets. 

Last week British Wool met with Katie to find out more and discuss her achievement.

Tell us about yourself?

I am a 25-year-old primary school teacher from Devon. I teach the Reception year in a school in the middle of Exeter and I love educating my children about farming- something they have no idea about! I have grown up on my family’s beef and sheep farm, which is currently where I still live. I have decided to take a year out of teaching from September, to take a trip to New Zealand and to spend more time at home on the family farm. I hope to take over the farm in the future once I have gained more experience in the industry.

Tell me about your interest in the sheep industry?

When I was 15 years old, I persuaded my dad to let me keep some sheep. These were the first sheep onto what was purely a beef farm - so something completely new to the whole family. My dad and I spent lots of time researching how to deal with sheep through reading books and watching You Tube videos. This experience led my dad into letting me choose a breed to introduce a small flock onto the farm. I chose a local breed – the Whitefaced Dartmoor. Although these sheep didn’t make us much money, they were lovely quiet sheep to start with and they taught us a lot. We have now got a much larger flock of Lleyn ewes, and I have recently purchased 23 of my own Suffolk Mules. I am keen to pursue sheep farming on my family farm, and always keen to learn more about the industry!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time I spend a lot of time involved in and helping with my Young Farmers Club - Cheriton and Tedburn YFC. I am also currently Haldon Group Chairman and I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing the group closer together this year through our recent entertainment performance which took us all the way to the National Finals coming 2nd. Having joined Young Farmers at the age of 12, I have been involved in such a variety of activities, socials, fundraisers etc and I think it is a fantastic organisation to bring young people in the countryside together.

In my spare time I also enjoy being creative and making personalised gifts mainly using textiles. I am currently working on commissions for personalised framed wedding embroidery.

I love playing sport and I am currently captain of a Netball team that plays in the Exeter League every Wednesday night. I am also Vice Captain for our Haldon YFC Ladies Tug of War team; which we train and compete in regularly.

Why did you want to be involved with British Wool Training & Development Programme?

I wanted to get involved with the Programme as I thought it would be a great way to develop my skills and knowledge at this stage of my farming journey. I have never been taught how to shear a sheep properly, so this is a great opportunity to learn these skills. My ambition when I got my 23 sheep last year was to be able to see them through every stage of their journey on the farm; I would love to be able to confidently shear these sheep this year! I was also extremely excited to hear how the winner receives a 1:1 with Marie Prebble and realised this is an experience you wouldn’t normally get!

What are you looking forward to most within the programme?

The most exciting thing for me will hopefully be being able to apply my skills learnt from the shearing course to shear my Suffolk Mules, and really put these techniques I learn into good use. Hearing that Marie is now going to be joining me to help with shearing my sheep has made this experience even more exciting!

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Southdown Duvets for this opportunity and supporting  my development.

What do you know about British Wool’s role in the UK sheep industry?

British Wool celebrates and promotes sheep farming and wool production in the UK. They also promote the use of British wool in different products. I would love to learn more about British Wool and its role in the sheep industry.

Jessica Cross From Southdown Duvets said: "Without shearing skills and professional animal handling, my business would not exist. British Wool's shearing courses, offering the next generation of shearers the opportunity to acquire those skills, is fundamental to all downstream users of wool and Southdown Duvets is committed to be being part of that crucial investment in the future. We will follow Katie's journey of discovery with great interest and support."

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Katie wins place on British Wool development programme