Lancaster Skipton Christmas prime lamb champions sell at heady £500 each For the second consecutive year, there was a Ribble Valley supreme champion at Skipton Auction Mart’s annual Christmas prime lambs show when Ian Lancaster, of Coldcotes Farm, Wiswell, near Clitheroe, landed the prestigious title for the first time. (Sun, Nov 25) Mart regular Mr Lancaster, joined by son Richard and his wife Mary, had been reserve supreme champion in the past, this time clinching overall top spot – and the bragging rights to go with it - with the first prize and champion Continental trimmed trio of lowland lambs, home-bred 41kg Beltex-cross lambs all by a ram from Andrew John Wood, who runs the Withy Trees Beltex flock near Preston.




The title winners have been shown with great success this summer, one standing reserve champion at the recent English Winter Fair in Staffordshire, this and another from the same pen finishing third in the pairs class.
With retail butchers and wholesalers from across the region again going head-to-head at the ringside to secure some of the best prime lambs that money can buy for their customers’ festive tables, the 2018 victors were bought by George Cropper Jnr for his Sandersons Butchers Shop in Baxenden, which he took over around two-and-a-half years ago.
It was the first time he had purchased the Christmas supreme champions at Skipton, also adding the third prize 49kg Beltex pen from the 2017 Ribble Valley supreme champions, Whalley father and son, Richard and Mark Ireland, at £145 per head.
The reserve supreme championship fell to the 2015 supreme champions, Martin and Val Brown, who farm at Dovecote Barn, Leyburn, with their daughter Hannah. Their 41kg Beltex-trio finished second in class to the overall victors and these lambs had been shown with marked success this summer, with multiple local shows wins, two in the pen also clinching the pairs championship at Countryside Live, along with a Great Yorkshire Show championship success.
Home-bred and among the first crop of lambs by Hallcrake Bucaneer, a ram acquired from Mark Jennings, of Kendal, the overall runners-up sold for second top call of £200 each to G&C Cropper Family Butchers in Accrington Market, run by George Cropper Snr and his daughter Clare.
For the first time this year, an untrimmed lowland lamb championship was staged, when the inaugural winners were Anthony and Emma Thompson, of Foulridge, with a pen of three 51kg Beltex-cross claimed by Nick Dalby, of Darley, on behalf of Kendalls Farm Butchers for its two shops in Pateley Bridge and Harrogate.
The Thompsons also sent out the first prize 48kg Suffolk-cross pen, sold at £132 per head, top price in class, to butcher Anthony Kitson for his four Kitson & Sons Butchers four shops in North Yorkshire and Durham. He also paid £155 each for a second prize untrimmed Continental pen from Ian Bell, of Carleton
Mike Allen, from Staithes, was untrimmed lamb reserve champion with a first prize pen of 38kg Beltex lambs, by a home-bred stock tup, out of pure Beltex. They sold for £120 per head to the Foulridge-based Thompsons.
Standing first and second in another show class for trimmed Continental lambs was Calderdale’s John Midgley, of Luddendenfoot, his 36kg victors selling for £132 to Hartshead Meat Co in Mossley, the 38kg runners-up to John Summers Family Butchers in Clayton, Bradford, at £130.
Retail butchers buying other prize-winning lowland lambs – they were judged by Jim Holden, who buys cattle for Morrisons Supermarkets’ meat processing company, Woodhead Bros in Colne - were Knavesmire Butchers, York, None Go Bye Farm Shop, Yeadon, and hill lamb show judge and livestock buyer, Morgan Helliwell, of Milnrow,
Mr Helliwell, of RM Helliwell, was also the single most prolific buyer of hill lambs, acquiring a total of seven prize winning pens, most notably his chosen champions, the first prize pen of 48kg Scotch Blackface wether lambs shown by first-time husband and wife entrants, Andrew and Jenny Hutchinson, and their son, Ian, from Raven Hill Farm, Faceby, in Hambleton.
They fell for joint top section price of £100 per head, with Mr Helliwell also snapping up three other first prize hill pens – 48kg Mules from Robert Tarbatt, of Winterhill, Darwen, 43kg Swaledales from Carleton’s John Smith at £77, and 42kg Dalebreds from JM Wilson & Sons in Beckwithshaw, also for £77.
All Mr Helliwell’s Skipton acquisitions were acquired on behalf of regular retail butcher customers across the north-west.
The Wilson family also stepped up with the first and second prize Masham pens, the 49kg victors going on to be crowned reserve hill champions and selling for £100 joint top to a regular buyer at the festive fixture, Andrew Ashby, who has The Millstones & Mill 67 in Skipton Road, Kettlesing, where they will again be served in the carvery restaurant and bistro.
The Wilsons’ second prize Mashams weighed in at 47kg and sold for £80 each to meat wholesaler Swaledale Foods in Skipton, who purchased several prize-winning pens of hill lambs– many find their way to top London restaurants - as did Yorkshire Halal Meats in Keighley. Others fell to Skipton-based Stanforths Butchers and Kettlesing’s Andrew Atkinson.
Continental lambs met a nice trade, with Beltex entries averaging 309.2p/kg, or £133.39 per head. Hill-bred lambs were also well represented, handy weighted Mule and Masham lambs selling at 160-175p/kg. Horned lambs were a good trade, the best 39-43kg wethers making 165-170p/kg.
The overall selling average of the 234 butchers lambs penned for sale was £99.93 per head, or 225.3p/kg.
The Lingfields Christmas show day again attracted multiple sponsors, the mainline supporter being Skipton NFU.