British Wool shearing boss retires after 20 years
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.