A sad day for the East Anglian sheep industry

This weekend marks the end of an era for the East Anglian sheep industry. It has, in the death of noted Texel breeder Chris Lewis, lost one of its true characters.

Chris, known to many as commentator at both the Royal Norfolk and East of England shows, was a true great of the sheep world. With a ready stockman’s eye which often carried a michievious glint, he helped shape the Texel breed into the world renowned force it now is.

Indeed, his Edingthorpe flock was the 87th registered in the UK. But, having known Chris for most if not all my life, I know his sheep farming abilities were just a small part of the man who lived at Windmill Farm.

The most memorable part of Chris was of course his sense of humour, who else would have picked the prefix Moulin for his flock of Rouge de L’Ouest? To own Moulin Rouge sheep was the ultimate demonstration of a man who never failed to inject his own brand of humour and wit into any situation.

Beyond the sheep industry Chris was a knowledgeable and skilled cricketer and sailor and above all else a true gentleman.

His loss at the age of just 65 will take many people some time to comprehend, particularly those of us fortunate enough to spend any time in his company at this year’s Royal Norfolk Show.

I was lucky enough to be asked to judge at this year’s show on Chris’ recommendation. For me there can be no greater compliment.

At the pre-show judges dinner he was a ever larger than life, despite arriving wearing a neck brace on account of back pain. Of course, Chris being Chris made light of the situation and took all the mickey taking the assembled throng could throw his way, safe in the knowlege he would get his own back the next day microphone in hand. And oh did he exact his revenge, never in a malicious manner, merely in his own charming way.

Those two glorious days in late June were the last time I saw Chris, but that is in many ways a good thing. I will be able to remember him as he would like to be remembered, full of beans and living life to the full.

The world is undoubtedly a poorer place without him.

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