Countryfile Live 2017

I (Miss Simpkin) was really pleased to have the opportunity to spend four days at BBC Countryfile Live again this year, held at Blenheim Palace. The BPA Junior Pig Club (who provided our school pigs) were asked to look after the pig exhibition area by Cotswold Farm Park, home of farmer and TV presenter Adam Henson. This explains the pink #teampigs t-shirt in the photo, but why is there a sheep?

You may have seen in a previous blog that we keep North Ronaldsay sheep, which are classed as 'Vulnerable (category 3)' by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. There are several sheep in this category but they are all considered to be the most at risk of extinction. The wild sheep live on one island in the Orkneys and so there is a real risk that if anything happened to their island home, the breed would become extinct. So, in the 1970s. the newly-formed Rare Breeds Survival Trust embarked on its first major conservation project and brought a flock of North Ronaldsays onto the mainland. One of the founders of the RBST and a key driver of this work was Mr Joe Henson, Adam's father. Some of the sheep were sent to the family's Bemborough Farm and there are still North Ronaldsays on the farm park today, descended from the original island population. 

As we need a new ram for 2017 (don't worry, Dave is staying too!) we approached Cotswold Farm Park and went to have a look at their stock. The ram in the photo was selected and, after a discussion with a small group of students, it was decided that he should be known as Joe as a tribute to the work of Mr Henson senior. Joe was brought to Countryfile Live by the farm park and we were fortunate that Adam Henson had time to do an official handover amongst the hustle and bustle of a show visited by over 100,000 people. 

The event is very different to the shows that we would normally attend as it is designed to promote the countryside and farming to people that don't necessarily get much chance to experience it, unlike our students who are exposed to all sorts of these issues in their rural science and forest school sessions. In the Adam's Farm (Passion for British Livestock) area we all worked together to explain the 'Farm to Fork' process so that visitors understood where their food comes from and the importance of buying British to ensure welfare and traceability. There were lots of rare breed farm animals on display as well as representatives from the food industry. We had great fun too with lots of social events, and made some good links which our students will benefit from in the coming school year. 

We can't wait to see what Joe's lambs look like when they arrive in April 2018! 

Hayley Simpkin