Reliving the golden days in the show rings with Leyburn success

Maureen Orme with one of her Limousin heifers at Home Farm, Stalling Busk.  Pic: Gary Longbottom
Maureen Orme with one of her Limousin heifers at Home Farm, Stalling Busk. Pic: Gary Longbottom
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WHEN MAUREEN Orme’s bullock was judged champion at Leyburn livestock market’s Spring Spectacular it was a case of rolling back the years to when she and Eileen Wilson of Scorton near Richmond graced the summer agricultural show circuit.

The pair attended at least ten shows a year in Yorkshire including the Great Yorkshire Show, with Maureen’s husband Bill doing the driving, and won many times at the likes of the Northern Counties Livestock Show at York Auction Centre, the Royal Smithfield Show in Earls Court, and Birmingham Primestock Show.

The showing duo called it a day around five years ago and although she enjoyed winning recently Maureen’s latest success isn’t about to bring a return to the summer show rings this year.

“I still go but I don’t miss the hassle of the clock watching and all of the running around that goes with it. Age and time were my main reasons for stopping. I also run a B&B so I always had to dash back to prepare evening meals.

“Eileen and I met some lovely people, but what has been particularly noticeable is that since we’ve stopped there has been an influx of people with lots of money buying great stock. It’s a different world when someone spends around £6,000 on a commercial beast just to show it.

“We’ve never shown anything that we haven’t bred. There is a real pride in competing with what you have raised. The standard today is fantastic irrespective of whether cattle are being bought in or raised by show people. The cattle we were showing back when we started wouldn’t stand a chance now.”

Maureen and husband Bill live at Home Farm, Stalling Busk next to Semer Water, North Yorkshire’s second largest lake after Malham Tarn, up in the rugged countryside of Raydale. They originally bought the house and 19 acres as a holiday home, a bolt-hole away from their two butchers’ shops in Kent. Although Bill was born in Oldham and Maureen moved north to Lancashire with her parents when very young the couple spent most of their working lives in the south of England. They have only one qualm about moving to God’s Own Country.

“If we could just have the Kent weather up here it would be marvellous. Our winters are getting longer. We turned our cattle out recently but had to bring them back in this week and it’s now June.

“We bought Home Farm in the late 1980s after having holidayed in Coverdale. We spent around two years travelling to and from Kent to do it up and in the end decided to sell up down south and move here full time. Our son William now runs the butcher’s shop we had in Offham.

“That’s when we started with the cattle. Bill liked the idea as he had always attended our local auction marts in Maidstone, Ashford and Sevenoaks. Our first cattle came from Kent. We purchased eight heifers in calf and over the years set about improving the herd. As we increased in numbers we managed to buy another couple of parcels of land that took us to the 65 acres we have now.”

At their height the Ormes had 90 cattle including followers with around 30-40 breeding cows and although the Orme & Wilson partnership was more known for commercial cattle using a Belgian Blue bull, today’s herd is three-quarters pedigree Limousin with around 20 breeding cows.

“We started showing in 1993 and I met Eileen that same year. She’s absolutely magic with cattle and is so good at presentation. We hit it off straight away and had some great years together.”

Maureen may no longer be showing her stock but she still gets the buzz from doing well.

“It was great to win at Leyburn. We’ve been going the past four years and this was our first champion but there’s more to cattle than showing them for me. They’re like having extended family. Our favourite cow was Ginge who we bought the first year we moved here. She had 18 calves with 14 of them being heifers and was 22 when she went.”