NSA award opens up exciting opportunities for adventure seeking young sheep farmers

25th July 2022

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is excited to open applications as the search begins for the second pair of lucky recipients for the NSA Samuel Wharry Memorial Award for the Next Generation.

The award, given in association with the Company of the Merchant of the Staple of England, comes in the form of two generous £2,750 travel bursaries to support two young people, aged 21 to 34, in a study trip to explore the application of science in sheep production. It gives enthusiastic and aspirational young sheep farmers the opportunity to widen their shepherding knowledge and experience.

The awards are made in memory of Samuel Wharry of Carnlough, County Antrim, who was NSA Chairman when he died suddenly in May 2017, aged just 56. Samuel was an advocate of science and technology, particularly relating to genetics, during his many years breeding Blackface sheep.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive comments: “NSA is delighted to be opening  applications for this special award. It offers young sheep farmers support and inspiration to travel and discover the important roles that science and technology now play in the improvement of the worldwide sheep flock. And after the world of travel being closed off for so long due to the covid pandemic it is especially pleasing to be able to move forward with the bursaries once again.”

Applicants are invited to apply for the bursary online on the NSA Next Generation website where they will be asked about their current involvement in the sheep sector, their plans for the future and for an outline of a planned study trip. The purpose of the study trip must be to learn more about the practical application of science and technology in the sheep sector. The recipients of the award will be expected to share findings from their trip through NSA communications.

Recipients of the first award, Marie Prebble, a sheep farmer and shearer from Kent, and Charlie Beaty, a mixed farmer from Warwickshire, received their bursaries at the beginning of 2019, allowing plans to be made for study trips exploring different aspects of sheep production.

Marie chose to travel to France, Norway, Iceland and parts of the UK, using her bursary to investigate best practice at shearing time, both improving animal welfare and wool presentation, whilst Charlie travelled to the Southern hemisphere visiting New Zealand to investigate grassland management and how improvement and utilisation of permanent pasture can be used to reduce production costs.

Marie says: “My study allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding best practice at shearing time from the perspective of a wide range of farmers in different environments. I now plan to continue with a keen interest several areas of further work highlighted during my trips.”

Charlie comments: “I thoroughly enjoyed being able to see how different farms prioritised different aspects of the businesses and how management styles varied with all adopting a grazing strategy that aimed to maintain grass quality, reduce residual grazing and address parasite challenges to get the best out of their land. I’d like to express my gratitude to both the NSA and The Company of the Merchants of The Staple of England for giving me such a fantastic opportunity.”

Applications are now open until Monday 12th September with first interviews due to be held on Monday 3rd October. Find terms and conditions and an online application form as well as further information on the NSA Next Generation programme at go.nationalsheep.org.uk/travelbursary.