Royston Baxter Trophy awarded for landmark 21st year at Skipton Dalesbred highlight The Dalesbred Sheep Breeders’ Association’s final seasonal prize show and sale of registered rams and females at Skipton Auction Mart marked a memorable milestone, as it was the 21st year that the Royston Baxter Trophy was awarded to the show champion.

And the former mart foreman and farmer, who lives locally in Steeton, was again on hand to present it in person to the title winner, a 2-shear ram from Yokenthwaite father and son, Stuart and Ed Hird.

By a tup acquired three years ago from fellow Yorkshire Dales breeder Richard Close, of Starbotton, who is vice-chairman of the Dalesbred Sheep Breeders’ Association, out of a home-bred dam by a Huddleston/Longton ram, the victor returned to the Dales when joining John Horner, of FW Horner & Son in Buckden, for 350gns.

There was also a charity element to the annual highlight when three sticks hand-crafted by Royston were sold in aid of Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope, raising £1,180 in total. Netting £200 was a thumb stick claimed by Nidderdale’s Martin Brown, of Woodale, Lofthouse, while a walking stick will also be utilised in the same neck of the woods when knocked down for £180 to Trevor Stoney, of Bewerley, Pateley Bridge.

The third, Royston’s very own market stick put to such good use when he worked at the mart, netted no less than £800, returning to its former home when purchased by Craven Cattle Marts, where, fittingly, it will be once more return to use as a sale ring stick.

Back in the ring, the sale saw a total clearance of all sheep. Top of the shop on price at 550gns was a shearling ram from North Craven’s John Kelsall, of Cold Cotes, Clapham. By a Catlow tup bred from a Fieldhead ewe it joined John Harrison in Blubberhouses.

Breed stalwarts, John and Jean Bradley, of Penny Grange, Giggleswick, who were reserve champions last year, repeated the feat when their first prize shearling ram was again tapped out as overall reserve by co-judges Meg Hutchinson, of Littledale, Lancaster, and Will Tiplady, of Walden in Wensleydale, the Association again plumping for youth in its choice of adjudicators.

By a home-bred Bradley tup known as “The Box,” a triple Great Yorkshire, Gargrave and Kilnsey Shows champion in 2019, out of a ewe got by a well utilised Frank Brennand ram, the reserve sold for 220gns to John Fisher, of Withnell, Chorley, the Bradleys also standing third in the same show class with a shearling by a Michael Dawson Littledale tup, also out of a Brennan-sired dam, which made 200gns when joining the Hayton & Stocks farming partnership from Bolton Abbey.

The second prize shearling ram came from past champons, father and daughter, Godfrey and Alison Haygarth, of Aigden Farm, Wigglesworth. Got by a Paul Bowdin Oughtershaw tup, bought at the 2019 Skipton sale, out of a John Kelsall-sired dam, the class runner-up sold for 90gns again to John Fisher. Pedigree shearling rams averaged £133.

Dalesbred females proved good to sell, with gimmer lambs a particularly strong trade. As in past years, the Coates family, from Rainscar Farm, Stainforth, again caught the eye, selling shearling gimmers to £138 (section average £134) and ewes to £125, with Hayton & Stocks themselves selling gimmer lambs to £88 (section average £68). Show sponsors wee Dugdale Nutrition, Dalehead Veterinary Group and Carr’s Billington.

At the start of the sale, CCM’s general manager and auctioneer, Jeremy Eaton, read out a letter from Royston, in which he thanked all concerned for the respect shown while he was both mart foreman and afterwards when visiting in retirement, when many people still made a point of shaking him by the hand. He further thanked all the auctioneers and yard staff, among them some who are still working for his time there.

Andrew Wood, Manorlands’ Community Fundraising Manager, said: "It was very kind of Royston to choose Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice to benefit from the charity element of the presentation of his trophy, especially the sale of his own market stick.

“Fundraising has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic and as always we appreciate the local farming community generously supporting us. Every pound raised makes a difference and helps us continue to be there when it matters for local people during the most difficult times of their lives."