Sheep Shearing and Woolhandling Finals Round Off Record Year at Royal Highland Show

Submitted by edg on Mon, 26 Jun '23 11.46pm
A man holds a sheep between his legs while shearing its coat

Competitors from across 30 countries faced off with shears and a flock of woolly sheep this past weekend for the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing & Woolhandling Championships. 

Teams came from as far afield as Chile, South Africa and New Zealand to compete for what was the second time the Golden Shears has been held in Scotland, the last time being 2003.

Sheep shearers compete on speed but are also judged for good techniques that ensure the welfare of the sheep, and the quality of the shearing job.

Taking the top individual titles in the competition held at the Royal Highland Show were Gwion Lloyd Evans from Wales for Machine (using an electric sheep shears), Bonile Rabela from South Africa for Blade (using manual sheep shears), and Rosie Keenan from Scotland for Woolhandling (skirting and rolling of the sheared fleeces).

In the team's section, South Africa won in Blade, Wales took the title for Machine, and Wales for Woolhandling.

The Golden Shears was first held in 1977 and takes place every few years in different locations around the world, including South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and France. 

New Zealand will host the 20th Golden Shears World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in Masterton on March 4-7, 2026.

Organised by Golden Shears World Council, the aim of the championships is to promote and encourage interest in wool and the art and skill of sheep shearing and woolhandling.

The Royal Highland Show, which this year saw a record 217,000 visitors over the four days, is the flagship fundraising event for the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). 

RHASS Chairman, Jim Warnock, commented:

 “The Society was delighted to finally welcome the Golden Shears this year, having won a competitive tender to host the event back in 2019. It was a brilliant competition which brought the eyes of the world to Scotland to watch the very best in shearing and woolhandling talent."

“Next year likewise promises to bring a global aspect to the Show, as we are looking forward to hosting the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth’s (RASC) conference at the 2024 Royal Highland Show.”

RHASS Chief Steward of Sheep Shearing, Bruce Lang, added:

 “It has been absolutely fantastic to see the Golden Shears back at the Royal Highland Show once again after a 20-year hiatus. The event is a spectacular showcase of global shearing and woolhandling talent, and having it at the heart of Scotland’s premier agricultural show really shines a spotlight on the sport."

“Huge congratulations to all of the winning individuals and teams. It takes an enormous amount of hard work, determination, and skill to reach this level and represent your country on the world stage.”

The competition was captured on RHS TV.

Record numbers of visitors

The sheep shearing competition was one of many  competitions at this year’s show, which included over 280 trophies, awarded to the over 5,000 cattle, sheep, horses, and goats competing.

This year also saw the addition of The Royal Highland Hoolie to the evening entertainment schedule on the Friday and Saturday nights, featuring country music groups like Skipinnish, Skerryvore and Derek Ryan performing to 4500-strong crowds.

There were 26,500 children who attended the Royal Highland Show for free, in line with the RHASS's charitable remit.  This includes school visits organised by the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET), and kids aged 15 and under free entry tickets.

High-profile figures attending the farming and rural business show  included HRH Anne, the Princess Royal; First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf; Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair, Mark Spencer; Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack; and Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands, Mairi Gougeon.

Next year’s Royal Highland Show will take place at the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston from 20 to 23 June 2024.