Eight Young Farmers members waded through waist-deep water to save 56 sheep from drowning.

The farmers – helped by villagers – spent four hours earlier this week ferrying the animals to safety by loading them onto small boats.

The sheep had become marooned on a shrinking piece of high ground in Sheepy Magna, Leicestershire.

The animals, owned by farmer David Cartwright, of White House Farm, had been grazing on a piece of land wedged between the River Sence and a small lake.

Mr. Cartwright’s son, Andy, raised the alarm when he checked on the sheep as torrential rain flooded the fields.

He immediately telephoned his friends from Market Bosworth Young Farmers and the rescue operation began at 5pm.

“They are a hardy Herdwick breed from Cumbria, but they would have been swept away if they’d fallen into the river. It could have been one sheep dip that we didn’t want!” said Andy.