Otley Show sparkles in the gloom

OTLEY SHOW is used to May weather and shrugged off a week of downpours to launch the Yorkshire show season more or less as scheduled.

The arenas were shrunk a bit to minimise damage to the ground, meaning some disruption of the equine event timetables, but a decision to press on regardless was rewarded by a day of cloud and cold but not much worse.

Show secretary Janet Raw said: “We are grateful to the land owners (the Lister family) for letting us go ahead.”

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In the sheep show, longwool exhibitors struggled to clean fleeces which had been dragging through mud for weeks. Supreme champion was a shorn Texel from local farmer Mark Keighley of Leathley. Margaret Watkinson of Sessay, Thirsk, took the reserve championship with a Masham and also had Best Mule.

Sophie Preston of Bingley, Bradford, celebrated her 12th birthday with a win in the booming Zwartbles section, showing a shearling she prepared with her dad, Harry, a director of the breed association.

Mr Preston said the striking black Dutch sheep were moving quickly from being a hobbyists’ favourite to an interesting professional option. He has been tupping his ewes with a Charollais to produce fat lambs and a batch born in January are already all gone, through Wharfedale Mart, at 41-45k, averaging £104.

In beef, the supreme champion came from the odds-and-sods competitition, Any Other Pure Breed - a Blonde heifer which Andrew Craven of Fangfoss, York, bought at Carlisle when she was two weeks old.

Runner-up was a young home-bred Limousin bull shown by the Summers family of Clayton, Bradford.

Phillip Summers, a highways maintenance contractor, grew up on the Clayton estate, in a family of 10, where he and a brother dreamed of farming. Now the brother, John Summers, is a butcher in Clayton and the two of them run Limousins and fatten crosses for beef with the help of their families.

In dairy, the supreme champion was a Holstein from Stuart Wood, who has managed to stay in business with 60 milkers at Leppington, near Malton, by working around the country as a cattle groom for sales and shows.

In one of the further corners of the show ground, the fur and feather people were celebrating a new development - tents big enough for the public to look at the exhibits at the same time as the judges.

The Northern Hamster Club opens its summer meetings season at Otley and goes on to the North Yorkshire Show, Brinsworth Gala in South Yorkshire, and Emley and Rotherham shows, before going back inside for the winter.

Explaining the appeal of the little rodents, club chairwoman Sheryl Lucas, from Manchester, said: “They are like little teddy bears.”

Most pet hamsters can trace their ancestry back to Syria, she said. Nearest wild British relation is the vole. There is a native European hamster but “it’s quite big and it bites”.

New in the trade stands was Barnes & Robinson, a Preston-based business started a year ago by two factory suppliers who decided battery technology had got to the point where electric bikes were a serious proposition. Co-founder Daryll Barnes was showing a range from a mountain bike at £749 to a Lambretta-style scooter, with power equivalent to a 50cc petrol engine, at £14,995. The bikes have a legal top limit of 16 mph for anyone intending to ride without licence or helmet but - strictly illegally and not recommended for trying at home - enthusiasts have discovered they can do a lot more with inhibitor mechanisms removed. Check Youtube for results.

Arena band was the Yorkshire Volunteers - also booked for the Great Yorkshire Show. It used to be part of the TA but kept going after the regiment wound up and is busier than ever, according to drum major Dave Rimmer, an imposing old soldier who works as a postman for the Blubberhouses area.

“We look good from a distance, that’s the secret,” he confided. “It’s our third time here, so we must be doing something right. Either that or we’re better than nowt.”


Best Texel & Champion Sheep - home-bred shearling ewe from Mark Keighley, Leathley, Otley.

Best Masham & Reserve Champion - from Margaret Watkinson, Thirsk.

Best Mule - from Margaret Watkinson, Thirsk.

Best Charollais - shearling ewe from Robert & Samuel Tindall, Wetherby.

Best Swaledale - gimmer hogg from Godfrey Haygarth, Settle.

Best Suffolk - from Sue & Lester Peel, Over Silton, Thirsk.

Best Wensleydale - from Yvonne Mudd, Knaresborough.

Best Dalesbred - from Mrs. G. Harrison, Otley.

Best Teeswater - from Dr & Mrs G. Horner, Whitby.

Best Bluefaced Leicester - from F.A. Caton, Otley.

Best Jacob - from Anne Urwin, Turton, Bolton.

Best Any Other Pure Breed - Poll Dorset from J.E. & S.M.Gray, Burley-in-Wharfedale.

Best Zwartble - home-bred shearling ewe from Harry & Sophie Preston, Bingley.

Best Fleece - on Masham hogg from Willis Graham, Masham.

Best butchers’ lambs - from A.M. & H.V. Brown, Bedale.


Best Holstein & Dairy Breeds Champion - second calver from Stuart & Sandra Wood, Malton.

Best Jersey & Reserve Dairy Breeds Champion - second calver from Richard Saxby and family, Skipton.

Best Dairy Shorthorn - heifer in milk from Mary & Ian Collins, Dewsbury.


Best Any Other Pure Breed & Beef Breeds Champion - Blonde heifer from Andrew Craven, York.

Best Limousin & Reserve Beef Breeds Champion - junior bull from Phillip Summers, daughters and niece, Clayton, Bradford.

Best Hereford - new bull being shown for first time by Heather Whittaker, Norwood Green, Halifax.

Best Highland - two-year-old bull from Sally Leighton, South Wingfield, Derbyshire.

Best Dexter - heifer in milk from Graham Hunt, Thirsk.

Best Commercial Cross - Limo-x bullock from showing partners Julie Sedgewick of Aycliffe, County Durham, & Neil Slack of Penrith.


Champion - Shire mare from Paul Bedford, York.

Reserve champion - Shire mare from Richard Bedford, Hartshead Moor, near Brighouse.

• More results will be posted at www.otleyshow.org.uk