Calderdale’s John Midgley retains supreme champion’s crown at CCM Skipton Christmas prime lambs highlight Victors again claimed for £500 per head top call by Accrington family butchers Calderdale sheep farmer John Midgley successfully defended the supreme champion’s crown he won for the first time the previous year when making a triumphant reappearance at Skipton Auction Mart’s 14th annual Christmas prime lambs showcase.

Mr Midgley, who runs his Upper Calder Valley Beltex flock at Dean House Farm, Luddendenfoot, clinched the title with his first prize pen of three home-bred 41kg Beltex-cross lambs, also tapped out as both trimmed and lowland champions by show judge Chris Wright, of Boston, Lincs.

By an Ainstable tup, the victorious trio again fell to the last year’s supreme champion purchasers, Cropper Family Butchers & Deli in Accrington, for top price of £500 each, or £12.19 per kilo. Mr Midgley’s flock comprises some 30 breeding ewes and he also runs a 75 head commercial dairy herd, bottling milk for local doorstep deliveries.

The Croppers, who had earlier claimed both the champion and reserve in the standalone lamb carcase show, also invested a further £400, or £8.69 per kilo, when snapping up the champion in the young handlers show class from ‘sheep-mad’ Charlie Leach, eight-year-old son of Adrian and Kathryn Leach, of Owlers Farm, Hebden Bridge.

His pure 46kg Beltex wether lamb was from an in-lamb ewe bought out of Skipton in December last year from Anthony Thompson in Foulridge. Young Charlie became the first-ever recipient of the Hannah Brown Memorial Trophy, presented by her parents, Leyburn’s Martin and Val Brown in memory of their daughter who died so tragically young earlier this year.

Keeping it in the family, dad Adrian Leach stood runner-up in the same show class as the supreme champions, his 44kg Beltex-cross trio also nominated as reserve champion trimmed lambs. Out of home-bred ewes, two were by a tup bred by the Critchley family in Hutton, Preston, the other again by an Anthony Thompson tup. They sold for £210 each, or £4.77 per kilo, to Knavesmire Butchers in York, one of the day’s principal buyers.

Untrimmed champion and lowland reserve champion was a familiar face from the east coast, Mike Allen, of Borrowby Grange, Staithes, with his first prize home-bred 43kg pure Beltex-cross trio by a tup from Wiswell’s Ian Lancaster, himself a past Skipton festive prime lamb champion. These, too, fell to Knavesmire Butchers at £240 per head, or 550p/kg. Mr Allen also stood untrimmed champion in both 2018 and 2019.

The untrimmed reserve championship went to Ellis Bros, of Addingham Moorside, with 45kg Beltex-cross lambs by Airyolland and Bronic tups. The trio got away at £205 per head, or 455p/kg, to Great Ouseburn’s B&C Robinson.

Hill lamb champions were past victors, the Hutchinson family from Faceby in Hambleton, whose three class-winning 51kg Hexham Blackies acquired from breeders JAI&DJ Scott, topped the section selling prices at £148 per head, or 290p/kg, when claimed by Skipton-based Swaledale Foods.

Swaledale Foods, whose customers include leading London chefs and restaurants. also paid £140, or 275pkg, for the hill-bred reserve champions, 51kg North of England Mules from Mick Collinson, of Clayton-le-Dale, Blackburn.

Back with the lowland lambs, Ellis Bros also presented the first prize untrimmed 39kg Beltex-cross lambs, sold for £156, or 400p/kg, with Foulridge’s Anthony and Emma Thompson themselves picking up a red rosette with a trimmed 38kg Beltex-cross trio, which also joined Knavesmire Butchers for £150, or 394.7p/kg. The first prize 49kg Suffolk-cross trio from Matt Reeday, of Hetton, made £142, or 289.8p/kg.

Returning to the hill breeds, multiple past festive show victor, Beckwithshaw’s David Wilson again led the way in both the Masham and Dalesbred show classes, winning the former for the fourth consecutive year with a 49kg trio sold for £142, or 289.8p/kg, the latter with 43kg lambs making £125, or 290.7p/kg, both going to Halifax meat wholesalers J&E Medcalf.

Calton father and daughter, Robert and Ellie Crisp, finished first and second in the Swaledale show class with 48kg pens, the winners making £130, or 270.8p/kg, the runners-up £122, or 254.2p/kg. Both fell to the hill lambs show judge, Dacre’s Kevin Marshall.

Rob and Sarah Marshall, of Monk Ing Farm, Dacre had the pleasure of seeing their ten-year-old son, Tom, a pupil at Dacre Braithwaite School, stand reserve champion in the young handlers show class with a 44kg Beltex-cross lamb, out of a home-bred hogg again by an Anthony Thomson tup. It was purchased by lowland judge Chris Wright for £198, or 450p/kg.

Michael Daggett and family, from Hartlington, donated a young handlers lamb shown by Mr Daggett’s grandchildren, seven-year-old Lucy and five-year-old Henry Tyson. It went on to sell no less than eight times when re-donated by generous bidders, making a grand total of £1,296 for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope, again one of the main beneficiaries at the festive highlight, which again had a strong charitable focus.

The 199 butchers lambs forward were in ready demand by both retail and wholesale buyers for their customer’s festive tables, selling to an overall average of £154.35 per head, or 348p/kg.

The annual Christmas showcase was once more supported by multiple sponsors, with Skipton NFU again the keynote sponsor.