Sheep breeders’ honour for Whalley farmer

ohn Townson Judging the Blue Faced Leicester ram lambs at Kilnsey show in the shadow of Kilnsey Crag.

ohn Townson Judging the Blue Faced Leicester ram lambs at Kilnsey show in the shadow of Kilnsey Crag.

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Sheep breeder Mr John Townson has been honoured with the presidency of a national organisation for one of the UK’s most popular breeds.

Mr Townson (73), of Brook House Farm, Mitton Road, Whalley, is the new head of the Bluefaced Leicesters Sheep Breeders’ Association, which has 1,300 members throughout the UK and Southern Ireland. He was appointed at the association’s annual general meeting at Carlisle.

Farming at Whalley since the 1960s, Mr Townson has specialised since the mid 1970s in Bluefaced Leicesters, a hardy upland breed which is regularly crossed with breeds such as Swaledale, Blackface, Welsh Mountain and Cheviot, to produce the Mule ewe.

He said: “It’s an honour to be nominated president by my fellow breeders. I’m not at the top of the tree for sheep breeders, but I like to think I’ve contributed in some small way to the progressive nature of the breed, and the fact that our association gives a service to the breeders themselves.

“Our members are mainly from the North of England, with large numbers from Wales and Scotland and some from Exmoor and Dartmoor.”

As president, Mr Townson will represent the Bluefaced Leicesters association at agricultural shows such as the Great Yorkshire, Royal Welsh and Highland Show.

Mr Townson, who is a judge at agricultural shows, has a small flock of Bluefaced Leicesters, rearing pedigree stock to sell for breeding, and he also rears commercial sheep and cattle.

He is also co-director, along with wife Dorothy and son Jonathan, in the family business Whalley Corn Mills Country Store, selling pet and animal foods and accessories.

Away from farming, he is a president of Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Club and a committee member of the Anti-Assassins Rugby Club, who raise money for injured players.