FROM a farm in Aberdeenshire to being crowned world champion shearer, Gavin Mutch is a shining example of what a passion for the sheep industry can lead to.

Brought up on the family farm near Huntly in Aberdeenshire, Gavin loved being out with his father and grandfather on the farm, helping with shearing from the age of 10.

Aged 17, Gavin completed his first training course with British Wool – the first of many courses on his career path to the top.

"My father was a British Wool shearing instructor and I soon discovered the amazing network of talent you meet. You learn from the best, recognised across the world," he explained.

After leaving school, Gavin attended agricultural college in Aberdeen and achieved a HND. When he was only 19, he travelled to New Zealand.

"I knew I could continue my training in New Zealand. The combination of British Wool courses, along with the support I received there, made the difference between just being a shearer, and being able to compete on the world stage.

"At the start, I learnt from the top British shearers. Colin MacGregor from Lochearnhead was one of my first coaches, along with Tom Wilson. I was very privileged to learn from them."

He gradually gained recognition, finally winning the World Championships in 2012: "You cannot achieve anything higher. I was fortunate to participate in three World Championship Finals previously, so knew what I was up against. Winning truly realised my dream – a huge honour and accolade."

In 2015, Gavin was the first non-New Zealander to win the Golden Shears in New Zealand: "As far as shearing goes, this is the event to win. You are up against the absolute best of the best. It was great to be part of it and to make history in the shearing world.

"You never stop learning. I continue to encourage ongoing training, you are fine tuning all of the time. Working alongside like-minded people is inspiring and motivates you. You must also maintain your fitness.

"It's incredible what the courses have led to and the experiences they've given me over 20 years. I have been lucky to meet and work with the shearing elite, and they have all played a part in my career."

Speaking about his inspiration, Gavin said: "A New Zealander called Jo Clark stands out. He gave me some great advice early on. 'Never give up, even when things are not going your way – keep on pushing your hardest.' It's all you need to do to get through.

"Digger Balme also. He's one of the top New Zealand Shearers. He's unbelievable in the sheds and in competition. He gives 100% every time. In four years, he taught me the discipline needed to be a serious contender."

Gavin offers his own advice to aspiring shearers: "Strive to be the best that you can be – there is a huge opportunity out there for you. It's a whole lifestyle – you can travel, earn good money during the week, and compete at the weekends. The opportunities are endless.

"There is already a huge international shortage of shearers. British Wool continues to invest in home grown talent and has a tremendous team – their courses are valued around the world. The camaraderie is amazing and opens doors everywhere."

Gavin's enthusiasm never dulls. He said: "I'd like to win the World Championships again, and I will use the next few months to get things in place to be 100% ready for France in July."

Now aged 39, married to Pip, with four children, Gavin has spent the last 15 years farming 1700 sheep in New Zealand. He still describes himself as 'Scottish through and through' and will represent the Scottish Shearing Team at the World Championships.

He's been assisting schools in Canada, New Zealand and the UK: "I want to give something back to support young shearers with their careers, now and in the future," he concluded.