THE success of the National Sheep Association (NSA) Next Generation programme is again clear to see following this year’s series of NSA Annual Regional Members Meetings (ARMMs), the majority of which were held over the past few weeks.

NSA Next Generation supports the future of the UK sheep industry through offering training and guidance to young people. It began back in 2014 and has since offered advice, training and more to a number of young sheep farmers from across the UK, including the popular NSA Next Generation Ambassador programme. This programme selects up to 12 young sheep farmers each year for the past five years to take part in personal and professional career development and has seen some outstanding young sheep farmers take part.

Founder of the programme, NSA Operations Director Joanne Briggs said: “In what are uncertain times for livestock production in the UK, the sheep sector needs innovative, enthusiastic and professional young people coming through in order to survive. We believe the NSA Next Generation programme is crucial in developing this and motivating younger sheep farmers to remain positive about their shepherding futures”.

Both NSA Northern and NSA Scottish Regions became the first of the NSA’s nine regions to elect NSA Next Generation Ambassadors to act as Chairmen leading their regional committees whilst others re-elected Ambassadors to serve as Vice- Chairmen and representatives on the associations English Committee at meetings held throughout February.

Becoming the first NSA Next Generation Ambassadors to lead their regions Thomas Carrick (pictured) from Alston, Cumbria and Jen Craig (pictured) from Crawford, South Lanarkshire were elected as NSA Regional Chairmen for NSA Northern and NSA Scottish Region respectively at the regions Annual Members Meeting (ARMMs) both held on Wednesday, February 13.

Jen runs her 710ha (1,750-acre) upland farm in partnership alongside her father and first became involved with NSA when she was selected to be one of the first NSA Next Generation Ambassadors when the programme began. Since then she has regularly been involved with NSA Scottish Region as a committee member and regular supporter and helper at the NSA Scottish Region building at the Royal Highland Show

Speaking of her election as NSA Scottish Region Jen said: “I am really pleased to have been elected as Chairman of the NSA Scottish Region. I am looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into the job at such a pivotal time for the UK sheep industry. I think it is a great thing to have a young person at the helm continuing the fantastic work of outgoing Chair John Fyall.”

New NSA Northern Region Chairman Thomas Carrick has been a committed member of the NSA Northern Region committee since joining shortly after his time as an NSA Next Generation Ambassador in 2015. Thomas, who is a partner in the family business breeding Swaledales and North of England Mules from an 1,800-ewe upland flock near Alston, Cumbria, has represented NSA Northern Region on the NSA English Committee for the past two years and also held the position of Vice Chairman for the region. Thomas says: “Having been involved with NSA Northern Regionfor a few years now it is really an enormous privilege to have been elected as Chairman. We have a huge amount going on with Brexit around the corner and our flagship event North Sheep coming up this June. It’s an exciting and busy time to be involved and I’m looking forward to working with the great bunch of people we have at the NSA to make sure our industry gets the representation it deserves.”

Fellow Ambassadors joining Thomas on the NSA English Committee are Robert Spink representing NSA Eastern Region and Howard Tratt, representing NSA South West Region. Several other NSA regions also welcomed Ambassadors onto their regional committees demonstrating the organisations commitment to the sheep farmers of the future as well as today.

This positive news follows the previously reported election of NSA Northern Ireland Next Generation Ambassador Johnny Farmer to sit on the NSA Board following their regional ARMM held back in November.