Lifetime honour for Borders farmer

Mags Clark from the Border Union Agricultural Society and Borders sheep breeder, James Jeffrey.
Mags Clark from the Border Union Agricultural Society and Borders sheep breeder, James Jeffrey.

Ninety-two year-old Borders sheep breeder James Jeffrey is set to be honoured for a lifetime’s commitment to the region’s sheep industry next Friday (14 September).

Mr Jeffrey will perform the Ringing of the Bell, alongside Show Secretary, Mags Clark, to signal the start of the annual Border Union Ram Sales in Kelso. Dating back to 1838, the event is Europe’s biggest one-day ram sale and this year has seen 5,458 entries (47 more than 2017), which will be sold across 15 rings by 7 different auctioneering companies.

The event, whose main sponsors are Closamectin® and Rumenco, is a huge undertaking and includes 10 marquees with over 178,000 sq ft of space to house the sale rings and sheep.

Mags Clark said; “The official 10am Ringing of the Bell to mark the start of the Kelso Ram Sales is one of the event’s most important traditions and we felt that this year, the honour of starting proceedings should go to someone who has made a significant contribution to the sheep industry in the region. James’ family has been selling sheep at this event since around 1900 and he’s a past President of the Border Leicester Sheep Society with a huge commitment to the industry, so we believe he’s the ideal person for the job.”

James first attended Kelso Ram Sales in 1942 at the age of 15, when he was responsible for selling the family farm’s Half Bred tups. His son, John now manages the family business, which operates from Kersknowe, Kelso and includes the oldest registered flock of Border Leicester sheep.

James Jeffrey said: “I’m hugely honoured to have been asked to Ring the Bell to start the Sale this year. The Kelso Ram Sales are a highlight in the farming calendar, both for our family, and for the industry as a whole. I’m greatly looking forward to playing such an important role.”