As the shearing season approaches a Devon shearer has encouraged anyone wishing to learn or develop their shearing skills to attend a British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) shearing course.
Ross Thomson, 20, a shearing contractor from Dawlish in Devon has benefitted from attending four BWMB shearing courses since 2012 and achieved the ‘Gold Seal’ under the accredited seal structure. The seals start with ‘Blue’, progressing through ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ which are awarded according to the quality and standard of shearing.
“I sheared my first sheep when I was 15 and it was always something I wanted to do following in my dad’s footsteps who was also a shearer. The main advice my dad gave me was to listen to those experienced shearers who would help me develop and to work hard.”Ross Thomson
Ross’s family farm is predominantly an organic poultry unit producing 3,000 chickens a month with some cattle and sheep also grazing the farm. When you speak with Ross it’s clear to see that he sees shearing as his main occupation and this is something he has a real passion and enthusiasm for.
“I sheared my first sheep when I was 15 and it was always something I wanted to do following in my dad’s footsteps who was also a shearer. The main advice my dad gave me was to listen to those experienced shearers who would help me develop and to work hard.
“The best place to learn was the BWMB shearing courses and from that very first course I attended, this is something I enjoyed. I’ve been on four courses and I’m very proud to have achieved my ‘Gold Seal’. The courses gave me an opportunity to learn from experienced instructors but also to meet and engage with other likeminded people who had a passion for shearing.”
As well as his achievements on these courses and shearing in the UK, Ross has shorn in New Zealand twice and also had three shearing seasons in Norway. The world of competitive shearing is also something that motivates Ross having competed in both UK and New Zealand based competitions. This includes winning seven junior finals and five intermediate finals - Ross will be competing in the senior shearer competitions this coming season with the overall ambition to become an Open shearer competitor.
“I love the buzz of the shearing stand at competitions as well as the opportunities shearing has given me. I’ve learnt a traditional rural skill that’s vitally important to our sheep industry, had fantastic opportunities to shear as a contractor and competitively and I look forward to continuing to develop and achieve new goals and experiences in shearing in the future.
“Shearing began for me on a BWMB shearing course which I benefitted from hugely – I’d encourage anyone with an interest in shearing to attend one of these courses.”