Bri­tish Wool shear­ing boss re­tires af­ter 20 years

Argyllshire Advertiser - - FARM­ING - Martin Laing ed­i­tor@ar­gyll­shiread­ver­

Loc­hearn­head farmer Colin MacGre­gor is step­ping down from his na­tional role with Bri­tish Wool.

Bri­tish Wool, the body which rep­re­sents the in­ter­ests of the UK’s wool in­dus­try, an­nounced Colin’s re­tire­ment.

A for­mer world-renowned Scot­tish shear­ing cham­pion, Colin has not only played a ma­jor role in Bri­tish Wool, he has made a key con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­gres­sion and stan­dard of shear­ing across the UK.

Colin sheared his first sheep with hand shears at the age of just 10, at his home in Loc­hearn­head. He started out as a Bri­tish Wool shear­ing in­struc­tor be­fore tak­ing up his role as se­nior in­struc­tor.

Dur­ing his ca­reer, Colin has in­structed thou­sands of shear­ers across the UK and Europe.

When he started with Bri­tish Wool as se­nior in­struc­tor for North­ern Eng­land, Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land, there was only one course avail­able: the ad­vanced shear­ing course. To­day, Bri­tish Wool of­fers hun­dreds of cour­ses, at all lev­els ev­ery year.

Colin’s phi­los­o­phy has al­ways been to set the proper foun­da­tion, so ev­ery young per­son wish­ing to learn to shear gets taught cor­rectly. ‘This is the vi­tal first rung of the ladder of a shear­ing ca­reer. There­after they can build what­ever they wish to achieve on top of this.

‘When set­ting up 20 years ago, we ben­e­fited from Euro­pean fund­ing, which en­abled us to train and men­tor in­struc­tors. The le­gacy to­day is a UK-wide frame­work of highly skilled shear­ing in­struc­tors.’

Colin said: ‘I am most proud of the qual­ity of shear­ers and the stan­dard of shear­ing we have here in the UK to­day. This is, with­out a doubt, as a re­sult of the tremen­dous team of in­struc­tors and men­tors we have put to­gether.’

Colin be­came Scot­tish cham­pion twice in the 1980s, and rep­re­sented Scot­land on the in­ter­na­tional stage. Colin him­self has taught many shear­ing stars, in­clud­ing for­mer world cham­pion Gavin Mutch.

Colin added: ‘You can earn a good liv­ing out of shear­ing, and at the mo­ment the op­por­tu­ni­ties for young shear­ers are great as there is a short­age in Aus­tralia and New Zealand. So, my ad­vice would be to spread your wings and en­joy the as­so­ci­ated travel.’

Joe Far­ren, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Bri­tish Wool, said: ‘Colin has been in­stru­men­tal in es­tab­lish­ing a train­ing pro­gramme that un­der­pins shear­ing and ef­fec­tive wool pro­duc­tion. With­out the cour­ses he has de­vel­oped, wool pro­duc­tion would be un­com­pet­i­tive, and the wool we re­ceive would be of much poorer qual­ity.

‘The quan­tity and qual­ity of shear­ers in the UK is some­thing Bri­tish Wool is very proud of.

‘The pos­i­tive progress made dur­ing Colin’s 20 years is also demon­strated by the way com­pet­i­tive shear­ing and wool han­dling has de­vel­oped, with UK-based com­peti­tors achiev­ing global suc­cess and recog­ni­tion.’

Asked what is next for him, Colin said: ‘I want to spend time at home in Loc­hearn­head get­ting to know my farm again. Get­ting it into shape is some­thing I have not had time to do for the past 20 years.’

Colin MacGre­gor with a newly sheared fleece.

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