Rural affairs: Early passion means trophies

Lucy Corner prepares and shows the Aberdeen Angus at this year's Ryedale Show.

Lucy Corner prepares and shows the Aberdeen Angus at this year's Ryedale Show.

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There are few young ladies that can have achieved as much in pedigree cattle showing as Lucy Corner. She’s not even 20 yet and at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show picked up the Young Handler of the Year award for the third time.

To some that would be enough of a prize but Lucy had an even broader smile when her British Blonde heifer Hallfield Hanoi became the show’s breed champion. She’s even won that title once before too, with her mentor Alan Hall’s cow Dora.

Tragically, Alan passed away very suddenly two-and-a-half years ago when he suffered a heart attack but it was he who set Lucy on her way at eight-years-old.

“Alan lived next door to our 100-acre mixed farm at Aycliffe. Dad used to go and help Alan muck out and one time we had just come back from market where dad had bought a heifer that I had picked out. Dad told him about this and then he’d asked whether I would like to go and show this heifer he had. He taught me everything I know about showing; how to look at the judge, to make sure your beast always stands square, that the feet are in the right place and how to prepare for showing both on farm and just before going into the ring.

“My first show was Northumberland County Show. I finished sixth with her. From then on I spent nearly every weekend and every time I wasn’t at school with Alan and his wife Carol on their farm. At first we showed his commercial cattle but then he went back to showing his own pedigree British Blondes and at 10 or 11-years-old I was showing them with him.”

The die was cast. Five years ago Lucy picked up the first of her three Young Handler of the Year awards and two years ago she took on the first of her fledgling British Blonde herd that now goes under the prefix of Lucyland.

Alan, always a popular and jocular man around the show rings, had passed away in February that year. “I’d seen him that afternoon. He’d waved at us as he was going in for his tea and that was the last we saw of him. The show season and looking after his cattle was hard. I showed Alan’s cow Dora and her calf that summer as well as my own yearling heifer, one of the two I had bought. Unfortunately Carol was very ill too and she sold the herd in November 2012. She also then passed away.”

For the past five years Lucy has been a regular at the summer agricultural shows and is regularly seen trooping cattle into the show rings whether it’s her own or those of others. Last week at Ryedale Show she helped Peter and Ann Turnbull with their Aberdeen Angus. “I sometimes go to a show just to watch because for one reason or another I can’t get our cattle there. So I normally tell someone I’m coming. Ann said why didn’t I go to the show with them for the day so that’s what I did. I went to Driffield Show with Ann too and while I was there I showed some Blondes for the Fawcetts.

“Showing cattle is important because it gives the opportunity for people to look at different breeds. I’m often asked what the Blonde breed is like and what it is wanted for. I tell them about its meat to bone ratio as it is a small boned animal and how quiet and nicely natured it is.”

The Lucyland herd now consists of three cows with calves, two young bulls and two in-calf heifers. She’s not sold any of her pedigree stock yet but will attempt to do so next spring.

Lucy was immensely proud that her Great Yorkshire Show breed champion was one that she had bought herself. One of her ambitions is to win with one of her own home bred cattle. For now, she’s studying for a degree in agriculture and land management at Askham Bryan College and has eyes on perhaps running her mum and dad’s Ryeclose Farm in the future.

“We have a suckler herd of around 15-20 cattle; a flock of 60 Texel and Suffolk X ewes and grow barley, wheat and grass. Then there’s my Blondes. I have completed an AI course and that would provide me with another income if I found work with an AI company. I’d love to get the numbers up of my Blonde herd. I went on a farm walk recently at James Weightman’s farm at Peterlee where I have bought my cows. When I saw a field full of them I thought that’s what I want.”

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