ON WHAT would have been the date of the annual Blacknose Beauties Show & Sale, the Valais Blacknose Sheep Society took its event online for the first time in its history.

Keen to continue showcasing the breed and bring VBSSUK members together, the society announced the online event with the aim to offer an experience to newcomers, bring back memories to those who would usually be enjoying the weekend celebration in Carlisle and encourage the future generations of breeders from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

The online Young Handler competition featured three classes, with each class winner put forward to compete for the overall Young Handler Champion title.

Competitions were judged by VBSSUK committee members Andrew and Jemma Knowles-Brown, of Crookedstane Valais Blacknose, who are also yearly Blacknose Beauties class sponsors.

The overall Young Handler Champion title was awarded to six-year-old Beau Houston of the Houstons Valais Blacknose flock.

Following the success of last year’s fancy-dress competition, the society also hosted three online classes. Classes were open to children, adults and family entries and judged by Hannah Jackson, the Red Shepherdess, recently seen on BBC Countryfile and SAS: Who Dares wins. The overall Fancy Dress Champions were brothers Alfie and Luca Jones from the Snowdonia Valais Blacknose flock with their ‘Avengers’ theme entry.

Jenni McAllister, joint director of VBSSUK, said: “Set against the disappointment surrounding the cancellation of the event in Carlisle, we endeavoured to reproduce what we could online. While not a substitute for the show, it was an opportunity to bring people together and demonstrate our resilience at this difficult time and have some fun.

"We received and overwhelming response from members and are grateful for their continued support. We look forward to welcoming everyone back under better circumstances next year.”

In addition to the online competitions, the annual sale, which forms part of the show, was also hosted online via Harrison & Hetherington. The timed sale ran from Tuesday, August 18, to Friday, August 21.

The society’s online sale saw more than 100 lots of Valais Blacknose sheep go under the hammer, with Scottish Breeders Raymond Irvine and Jenni McAllister’s ram lamb Highland Hero topping the sale at £6,550. Following at £6,300 was Westmorland Hollie, a ewe lamb belonging to Cumbrian breeder Tim Dunne. Cheshire breeder Eliott Ford sold Maverick Import VBN3291, an ewe with lamb at foot for £5,650. Ewe lamb, Accraplatts Heather, bred by Caroline Brown, sold for £5,100 and Goldies Valais Blacknose sold their shearling ewe Denne Manor Penelope for £5000.

Jenni McAllister said: “Hosting the online sale was a first in the history of the society, but it has been our largest sale yet featuring more than 100 lots. We were thrilled with the amount of entries which attracted both UK and global breeders, incredibly happy with the response from respective buyers and the overall sales results for all society members.”

The society also launched a fundraiser to raise money for The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) wicho provides an array of support to families and individuals in the agricultural industry. Semen pellets from fantastic rams belonging to the Highland, Westmorland and Whitehall flocks were sold at the end of the online sale with all proceeds donated to the charity, in addition to 25 per cent of all online raffle tickets and 2019-20 calendar sales proceeds.