Showcasing the best of Lincolnshire livestock

The Louth Annual Christmas Stock Show was held on the first Thursday of December and attracted plenty of high quality entries and support from the surrounding rural community.
Louth is a Charter Market town entitled to hold markets since the early 1600s. Louth Livestock Market on its current site, close to the heart of the town, has been a hub for rural life for over 250 years and is the last livestock market in Lincolnshire. There was certainly a buzz about the morning and as well as the press, local councillors were invited to witness the sale and discover the other amenities and services the venue provides to those who work in the rural economy.

The site and buildings are owned by East Lindsey District and operated by Louth Market Auctioneers, a partnership between two local firms, Willsons Chartered Surveyors of Burgh le Marsh and Masons Chartered Surveyors of Louth. Simon Williams, a partner at Masons, explained that generations of farming families have used the market and the Christmas Stock Show especially draws not only people actively buying and selling in time for the festive season but many also come to soak up the atmosphere and meet old friends.

“The market serves a vital link in the area between the town and rural communities and there is the stimulus to the local economy from the people the market draws into the town each Thursday,” he said. “However, this show attracts some of the best livestock bred in the area but there is also a fun side to the day with a charity auction of sheep, a raffle and collection to support Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance and the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network.”

Certainly the staff from LRSN had entered into the spirit of the day, sporting a fine range of Christmas jumpers and hats.

A question has hung over the future of the market for the past decade, as the council have sought a buyer to redevelop the site.

Simon continued: “No one in the farming community, [nor] many in the wider community want to see this heritage and vital service lost. Various models have been suggested whereby the market would continue to operate and more productive use of the site could be achieved on additional days of the week.”

One option is to relocate the market to a new development on the industrial estate to the north west of Louth. Another is to bring the sheep market closer to the main market buildings and make part of the five-acre site available for development. Additional investment could make the remaining site multifunctional; a venue for craft and collectors fairs, a live venue and café, while still offering some car parking facilities.

“I think we would all like to get some clarity on how the site could be best utilised and preserve the many benefits the market brings to the economic and social life of the district.”

More than forty prime Lincolnshire reared beef show cattle were auctioned at the sale, with most sold to independent wholesale butchers who in turn supply many of the county’s independent butchers and bakers. If you enjoyed some of this fine produce over the festive period, you have played your part in supporting a vital and valued asset in our county.

Standing in the cold to spread the word about potential grants for local farmers was Judy Bell. Judy is one of Lincolnshire County Council’s Funding team, promoting the availability of EU Rural Development LEADER Funding in Lincolnshire.

“This is the first time I have come to the Market,” said Judy, “but it will not be the last. We can help farmers with investment to improve productivity and for diversification. The grants are equally accessible to sectors such as tourism, rural services, forestry, heritage and community initiatives which can generate growth in the rural economy.”

The initiative was specified to run from 2014 to 2020 but the Brexit result has now accelerated its end date, with the requirement for expenditure to be made by claimants by September 2018. The government is starting work on the domestic programmes that will replace those funded by the EU.

“The total fund available in the Lindsey Action Zone covering the Wolds, market towns and West Lindsey was £1.7m and we still have about £1.4m to allocate. I am here to try to discover how we can help local farmers identify suitable projects and work to secure grants for them of up to 40% of their costs. I would encourage anyone with a viable idea, for example, precision farming or implementation of new technologies within their business to come forward and talk to us.”

You can get in touch with the LEADER team in your area by calling: 01507 354561, email or for more information visit:

Carol Allison from Thoresway took the Challenge Cup Championship for the best pen of three matching Beltex lambs, which were bred on the farm last spring.

A Belgian Blue cross Limousin bred by the Goulsbra family of Authorpe was chosen as the Championship Beast, fetching the best price in the ring. The beast was bought by the Wright family from Boston, owners of the abattoir in the town, and David Wright was amongst the strongest bidders for both lamb and beef at the market. David and son Andrew are both regular attendees at Louth Cattle Market buying for both the wholesale and retail sides of their business. In addition to their wholesale meat sales, the family bought Lakings Butchers retail shop in Louth in August 2016 after the death of John Laking.

“We had been supplying the shop with meat for many years“, said Andrew, “so we wanted to keep its great name going. All of the team were in place and John had built an enviable reputation for quality and service.” The Wrights are planning to expand the business and have launched an online, mail order service which will be able to deliver across the UK from the company website

“Coming to the Annual Christmas Stock Show at Louth means we can buy outstanding animals bred by local farmers and we know they will make superb eating over the festive period. We want to promote prime Lincolnshire produce in our shop as much as our wholesale customers across Lincolnshire do, so making the winning bid for the Championship beast enhances all our reputations for the best of quality.”

The office of Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN) at Louth Cattle Market is open every Thursday for show and sale days. The LRSN is a lifeline for many who find themselves isolated or in need of support within the rural community.

“It can be very lonely and stressful managing a farming business in our county,” said Rev Canon Alan Robson who is Lincolnshire’s Agricultural Chaplain. “People who are used to being strong and resilient can become frail and vulnerable through no fault of their own. We are here to discuss their physical and mental health, as well as offer them support, through our network of volunteers and contacts, managing difficulties in their business.”

The scope of issues which LRSN addresses range from mental capacity as the population ages, to Rural Payments Agency late payments, succession resolution, self-harm, stress and family disputes.

LRSN help is offered for no cost to the farm worker, rural person or farmer and utmost confidentiality is maintained by the team and even amongst the team.

A new national initiative, Rural+, is engaging members of the seventeen Young Farmers Clubs across the county to address similar issues amongst young people in rural areas. The clubs have a lot to offer in terms of the social, educational and emotional development of rurally based young people and the project will work to dispel myths around mental health. This has been made possible by the Rural Charities Dinner, which has raised £40,000 for four charities to date. LRSN used their £10,000 towards Rural+ to offer clues, ideas and direction to where help can be found in difficult times with an informative video and a ‘toolbox’ of ideas for a club evening.

The LRSN has over thirty on its team, most of whom, including their trustees, are volunteers. In October the organisation was accredited with Investing in Volunteers, achieving the required standard in just twelve months. Alison Twiddy, LRSN project manager explained about another one year project, Solution Focussed Conversation, which is being run in conjunction with Dr Roger Betherton from the University of Lincoln.

“Through this partnership we are giving our volunteers enhanced skills to deal with mental health issues and the associated research will assess the value to community groups and the patients.”

You can find out more about the work of LRSN at:

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