Enterprising young Norfolk shepherd wins £5,000 farming award
PUBLISHED: 20:35 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 20:45 05 June 2019
An enterprising sheep farmer aims to expand her flock and her contracting business after winning a £5,000 prize awarded in memory of an inspirational Norfolk stockman.
Becky Dixon, 27, from Ringstead in west Norfolk, is the 2019 winner of the Chris Lewis Award, which has been presented every two years since 2007 in memory of its namesake - a charismatic sheep breeder renowned for making time to help young people.
This year's champion bought her first sheep at the age of 14. After eight years of full-time shepherding she is now self-employed and hopes to build up her flock of 200 sheep after winning the award, which she said was a "great thing to be a part of".
She also works with other farms and looks after up to 3,000 lambs in winter, so her prize money will be used to buy a livestock trailer and part of a mobile handling system, which will enable her to offer a more complete shepherding service.
"I want to build up my own flock, but I don't necessarily want to get so big that I cannot go out and do my self-employed work," she said. "I like to work with other people, and I want to go out to the smaller farms and the rare breeds. That is what the handling system will help with."
The Chris Lewis Award is open to Norfolk livestock farmers aged 30 years or under, and is awarded by the Norfolk Farmers Trust.
The prize was presented at Snettisham Park in west Norfolk by Mr Lewis' widow Jane Lewis, who noted that farmers were still facing the same levels of Brexit-related uncertainty as they were two years earlier when she presented the previous award. "However, life goes on, and it is vital that every encouragement should be given to the next generation of farmers, so I am delighted the Norfolk Farmers Trust continues to give this award in Chris's name," she said.
Miss Dixon said she was not worried about the future.
"I feel positive about it," she said. "I have got a little girl (two-year-old Evie) and I am more than happy to bring her up in this environment and to give her a good understanding of it. You have to believe in the future of it."
The three other award finalists were: Megan Atkins, a 22-year-old Aberdeen Angus cattle breeder from Briston; Samuel Edwards, a 25-year-old pig farmer from Litcham; and Rhys Richardson, a 28-year-old sheep farmer from Ingoldisthorpe.