GLYNLLIFON campus overcame obstacles posed by the Coronavirus pandemic by taking its annual sheep shearing competition online.

Every summer, the Llandwrog-based college's event sees students awarded with the Machine Shearer of the Year, the Elgan Williams Memorial Cup, and best Shearer of the Year prizes.

This year, tutors at Glynllifon put their heads together to think of a safe way to hold the event so it could still bring much-needed relief and entertainment to the students during this difficult time.

With the help of modern technology, the students were able to compete against each other from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Following strict competition conditions, the students filmed themselves shearing and sent their entries to their tutors to judge who deserved the top spots. The judges received many entries from the students, who showed real enthusiasm and commitment to take part in the competition in whatever way they could.

After judging the students' skills and techniques in the videos, the winners were chosen and revealed to the competitors. Earning Machine Shearers of the Year were Tomos Clwyd Edwards from Henllan, Denbigh (male category) and Sian Angharad Jerman from Carno (female category).

Both study BTEC L3 Extended Diploma in Agriculture at the Glynllifon campus. Farm and Forestry Manager at Glynllifon, Rhodri Owen, was thrilled with the online event and the students’ achievements. He said,

A spokesperson for Coleg Glynllifon said: “The annual Shearing Competition is something the students really look forward to every summer, so it would have been a real shame for them to miss out entirely this year.

"Covid-19 certainly prevented us from holding the competition as we usually do, however, it also presented an opportunity for us to do something a bit different. Technology, something a lot of people don’t fully associate with farming, was the main facilitator for this competition. We have welcomed modern technology at Glynllifon farm many times before and are advocates for the benefits it can bring.

"On this occasion, it allowed the students to carry on with the competition and, in doing so, continue their professional development, despite the inhibiting factors beyond our control. I am very proud of them and how they have adapted to these difficult situations, something all students at Glynllifon are encouraged to do!”

Winning the Elgan Williams Memorial Cup was Tomos Clwyd, who has just completed his first year studying agriculture Level 3 BTEC at Coleg Glynllifon.

A member of CFfI Nantglyn YFC, he follows in his Conwy Valley grandfather’s footsteps with the shearing handpiece. Farming beef and sheep at Tywysog in Henllan situated on the Conwy Denbighshire border, with his parents and younger brother, Tomos said on winning the award:

“I am delighted to have been awarded the Elgan Williams Shearing Memorial Cup,” explains Tomos. “The virtual competition this year, due to the Covid restrictions, meant you had to ensure someone filmed you shearing a ewe, and then send the footage to the college for the judges to critique the work. Winning the award came as a surprise, but it has been made even more special as Elgan’s family are close friends of mine and farm next door to us, here at Henllan."