NEMSA breed stalwart takes over as president
NEMSA has appointed a new president, Northumberland livestock farmer Peter Lee, a true stalwart and champion of the well-known breed.
Unanimously elected at the recent annual meeting at Hexham Auction Mart, Mr Lee succeeds retiring president, Geoff Taylor, of Swathburn Farm, Great Asby, who was warmly thanked by national chairman Chris Harrison for all his hard work during his role and previously as a “fabulous ambassador for the breed.”
A past chairman of NEMSA Lazonby Branch and Swaledale Sheep Breeders Association District, Mr Lee was born and bred, and still farms at Morley Hill, Whitfield, near Allendale, with his wife, Jennifer, and two sons, Jonathan and Charles.
He is a founder member of NEMSA, which was first established in 1980 and remains one of the UK’s biggest sheep breed associations in terms of numbers, maintaining a membership around the 1,000 mark, and has worked tirelessly to promote the breed at shows and other events across the country.
His in-depth knowledge of both Swaledale and Blue Faced Leicester bloodlines - the dam and sire of the North of England Mule - has resulted in Morley Hill stock winning multiple prizes over the years at shows staged at both livestock auctions throughout the North of England and nationally.
Mr Lee was instrumental in initiating the North of England Mule classes at The Royal Highland Show, also presenting the J Lee & Son Perpetual Challenge Cup awarded annually to the supreme champion. In addition, he has supported and encouraged new breed classes at the RHS Winter Fair.
In 2014. Mr Lee, a dyed-in-the-wool stalwart of NEMSA and lifelong Mule breeder, received a lifetime achievement award from the National Sheep Association’s Northern region .The citation for the T I Allinson Memorial Award said: “Peter's enthusiasm for the North of England Mule is unparalleled. He has worked tirelessly to promote the breed, is held in high regard and has great respect from all NEMSA members, and is seen as an ambassador for the Mule sheep breed.”
In accepting the presidency, Mr Lee said he would seek to continue and build on the work of his predecessors in further promoting the North of England Mule, Britain’s most prolific sheep breed in terms of numbers, and help maintain the Mule ewe’s position the UK’s most popular commercial sheep for crossing purposes.
With his term in office interrupted by Covid. Mr Harrison, who farms with his family at Coatlith Hill, Alston, was re-elected to serve a further year as national chairman. Himself a third generation Mule breeder and former Lazonby branch chairman, Mr Harrison remarked on the overwhelming success of the 2021 autumn sales season at northern auction marts, when the Mule ewe saw a massive across-the-board per head increase of some £20 on the year, a clear indication of continuing high demand for the breed by users nationwide.
He congratulated NEMSA members for raising almost £20,000 for different charities at the regional show and sales and on the welcome resumption of some of the annual summer shows.
Jonathan Hodgson, a second generation North of England Mule breeder who farms at High Borrans, Windermere, and is a former NEMSA Kendal branch chairman, remains vice-chairman, with all vice-president’s relected on bloc.
Treasurer Jeff Burrow reported a satisfactory financial position, with funding in place to further promote and market the all-purpose North of England Mule.
Guest speaker was Mike Yerbury, Director of Forestry at Egger UK in Hexham, who discussed how his industry should work hand in hand with land managers, a topic that prompted the audience to debate the value of fallen trees with the wood specialist. Shearwell Data and Eden Farm Supplies remain NEMSA’s keynote sponsors.
Pictured is new NEMSA president Peter Lee, photograph by Robert Smith Photography