As raw wool arrives at the British Wool depot in Bradford it is met by a team of skilled graders who assess and grade every last fleece.
Leading this team is head grader, Ian Brooksbank, who has recently been awarded the Frank Williams Trophy by the Cotswold Sheep Society for his contribution to the society.
The prestigious Frank Williams Trophy - a beautiful, cased, one-off sculpture of a Cotswold sheep - is presented annually, after nominations from Cotswold Sheep Society members, to someone that has carried out outstanding work or assistance to the society.
Ian was awarded this accolade because of the contribution he has made to the society through educational talks, as well as regularly judging at shows and always providing helpful feedback.
The Cotswold Sheep Society was established in the 1890s when it represented the owners of 22 different flocks.
Nowadays, the Cotswold is classed as a rare breed, although its wool is still known as the ‘golden fleece’.
The Cotswold Sheep Society is delighted to offer Ian this prestigious award in recognition of his ongoing and invaluable service to the industry. Ian has judged for us on a number of occasions and has also given some fascinating talks to the society members.Davina Stanhope, Chairman of the Cotswold Sheep Society
Chairman of the Cotswold Sheep Society, and herself a past recipient of The Frank Williams Trophy, Davina Stanhope, commented: “The Cotswold Sheep Society is delighted to offer Ian this prestigious award in recognition of his ongoing and invaluable service to the industry. Ian has judged for us on a number of occasions and has also given some fascinating talks to the society members.
“Despite having a young family, he gives his time freely and always goes the extra mile to encourage our members, and ensures that he provides useful feedback when judging. I found it absolutely fascinating to watch Ian as he judged our ‘Wool on the Hoof’ competition at the society show last July. The concentration and level at which he considers the fleeces has to be seen to be believed.
“British Wool works very hard to keep British wool of at the forefront of the manufacturing and fashion industries and it is a great supporter of producers at all levels, whatever the size of their flock. Ian is certainly a great ambassador for British Wool and it is a privilege to have been able to make this award.”
Living and breathing wool, Ian boasts a lifetime’s experience within the industry and is passionate about his job.
At just 16 years old, he embarked on a career with British Wool in which he began as a ‘trolley dolly’, moving trolleys of graded wool through the various processing stages at the depot.
He then set out on the organisation’s five year apprenticeship to learn his trade and become a wool grader.
Now, 26 years later, he has achieved the pinnacle role of head grader, overseeing the grading team at British Wool’s Bradford depot.
On being presented with his award, which came totally out of the blue, Ian said: “I was honoured and totally surprised to receive the Frank Williams Trophy, so thank you to those who nominated me. Part of my role is engagement, and I thoroughly enjoy attending shows and talking to producers, especially when they are as keen as the members of the Cotswold Sheep Society.
“Personally, I see grading as my vocation, not my job. I often go out to visit farms and deliver wool sheets, and to be given the opportunity to meet producers face to face, and provide support and advice, is fantastic.”
British Wool is an organisation which continually strives to promote and market British wool to a global market. At the very heart of the board are approximately 40,000 producers spanning the length and breadth of the UK.
British Wool endeavours to work with these producers to improve the quality of their fleeces, maximise the potential of their wool and to drive forward the industry as a whole.