An Oxfordshire farmer and national champion shearer is preparing to break a world shearing record in memory of his three-year-old daughter, who tragically died last year.
Stuart Connor will be racing to shear more than 867 lambs in just nine hours, while raising money for a charity which is dear to his family’s hearts.
In April 2018, Stuart and his wife Kira lost their daughter Grace to mitochondrial disease. Money raised at the shearing marathon will go to The Lily Foundation, which works to find a cure for the condition.
Having set up the fundraising group Team Grace, Stuart and his family and friends have already raised more than £54,000 for the foundation.
“We decided that we never want people to feel this pain, this loss, this hurt, so we started raising money for The Lily Foundation,” says Stuart.
The shearing challenge will start at 5am on Saturday, 21 September, at Fern Hill Farm in Compton Martin, Somerset.
Stuart says he has wanted to undertake a record attempt in memory of Grace for some time. “She loved everything I did, whether it be driving the tractor, shearing sheep or being with the dogs,” he says.
No stranger to speed shearing, Stuart has previously shorn 900 lambs in nine hours as part of a personal challenge during one of seven stints in New Zealand.
He runs his own shearing round in the Banbury area in Oxfordshire, where he gets through about 20,000 sheep a year with the help of one other shearer. He also has his own 200-ewe flock of New Zealand Romneys.
Stuart’s attempt to break the record set by Ivan Scott of Cornwall in 2016 comes just days before a pair of young shearers attempt to set a new world record for the most sheep sheared in eight hours – the first attempt of its kind by two Brits on UK soil.
Jonny Roberts and Martin Howlett will need to shear more than 1,068 ewes to break the current two-stand record, with their attempt kicking off on Tuesday, 24 September.
Date: Saturday, 21 September 2019
Location: Fern Hill Farm, Compton Martin, Bristol, BS40 6LD
How to donate: Donations to The Lily Foundation can be made on the day of the event or via the Team Grace Just Giving page.
You can keep track of Stuart’s progress and find out more on his dedicated Facebook page.