THE FIRST ever National Sheep Association Samuel Wharry travel bursaries have been awarded to Marie Prebble from Kent and Charlotte Beaty from Warwickshire, who can now begin to firm up travel plans as both receive an award of £2750 to explore sheep farming enterprises overseas.

Marie, who farms 550 Romney breeding ewes in Kent, is planning on using her bursary to travel to Norway and Iceland following a trip to compete at the world shearing championships in France with shearing and sheep welfare central to her journey. She said: “I am looking forward to putting my environmental sciences background to great use in studying 'practical considerations for welfare during shearing in the Northern Hemisphere' by connecting animal, social and environmental sciences with their practical applications on farm."

The second recipient, Charlie, farms 300 North Country Mules in Warwickshire alongside an arable and beef enterprise and is planning on travelling to New Zealand to explore ways of improving grassland management. She explained: “With the current uncertainty facing the UK sheep industry I feel that sheep farmers should be looking to lower production costs by maximising the potential of the cheapest feed available to them – grass. I have chosen to travel to New Zealand as I don’t believe grassland management can be seen better in any other country."

Marie and Charlie were selected following interviews with NSA Northern Ireland region development officer Edward Adamson, NSA Wales and Border Ram Sales director Jane Smith, NSA operations director Joanne Briggs and Stephen Fell from the Merchant Company of the Staple of England. Joanne reported: “This is the first time NSA has awarded a bursary and we are thrilled with the outcome so far. This bursary is named in memory of NSA chairman Samuel Wharry who sadly passed away suddenly in 2017. Samuel was an advocate for the application of science and technology on farm and we are confident he would be pleased to hear of the study tours both Marie and Charlie will take. All at NSA hope Sam’s enthusiasm, curiosity and practical nature will live on through these travel bursaries.”

Stephen Fell of the Staple commented: “I was very impressed at the interest shown in the new award and at the quality of the applicants. The eight applicants we interviewed demonstrated a good involvement in the sheep sector and the challenges facing it. The subjects they wished to study were wide ranging and very pertinent to those various challenges.

“The process was well structured and fair, and as a major supporter, we in the Merchant Company of the Staple of England are delighted with the result. Marie and Charlie were brimming with ideas and enthusiasm and I’m sure will prove worthy recipients of our new award.”