Shepherd's pedigree life story

For almost half a century shepherd Ken Riggall was one of the most successful breeders and exhibitors of Suffolk sheep.He will launch his autobiography on Wednesday - the first day of the Suffolk Show, where he enjoyed so many triumphs over the years.

For almost half a century shepherd Ken Riggall was one of the most successful breeders and exhibitors of Suffolk sheep.

He will launch his autobiography on Wednesday - the first day of the Suffolk Show, where he enjoyed so many triumphs over the years.

Mr Riggall took prizes, championships and supreme titles at the top regional shows and also at the Royal Show on a number of occasions.

Born on October 22, 1922, in a small Leicestershire village, he was the third son. His father Charles, who was the head gardener of the Manor House, Scraptoft, but his grandparents were Lincolnshire farmers.


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After a spell in the Navy he returned to Leicestershire to the CWS estate. He wanted to specialise in pedigree sheep breeding but was advised to look out for a vacancy in East Anglia were they were plenty of Suffolks.

A chance vacancy in Essex as an assistant shepherd was his first rung on the ladder, so Mr Riggall moved to Manningtree to learn his craft. He first met his eventual wife, Patricia, in 1941 but didn't see her again until returning from military service. Finally, they married in October 1949 and enjoyed a short honeymoon in Lowestoft. Living in a house with no bathroom, a copper to heat water in an outside shed, no drains, no toilet, it was a tough start to married life.

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He was gaining invaluable experience of handling and showing sheep and at the 1950 Essex County Show at Saffron Walden, he won his first red rosette with a pen of ewe lambs - beating the pen belonging to Sir Robert Gooch, of Benacre, which had taken the Suffolk Show championship a week earlier.

The rapidly rising star won the champion ram lamb class at the Suffolk Sheep Society's sale at Ipswich, which was later bought by a Canadian breeder for 400 guineas (£420). His first full year as shepherd ended on a real high when on his birthday, he was told that the flock had won the double - the society's national flock championship and also the Gold Cup for best ewe flock.

The partnership with Robert Long, of Hall Farm, Fornham, near Bury St Edmunds, was to earn even more honours and gain a national and international reputation. He finished his 50th showing year in 1998 when sheep exhibitors at the Suffolk Show staged a surprise party and then out of the blue, he was made

an MBE in the New Year's Honours.

The 120-page book includes a foreward by Paul Heiney, who pays tribute to this celebration of "a way of country living that will never been seen again. Enjoy this book for the record it provides of a true countryman's life."

A shepherd and his flock - 50 years with Suffolk sheep, by Ken Riggall. John Nickalls Publications £9.99. (By post from JN Publications, Oak Farm Bungalow, Sawyers Lane, Suton, Wymondham, Norfolk NR18 9SH - (including p & p) £11.50.

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