LIVESTOCK auctioneers, John Swan & Sons, has revealed plans to replace its traditional Christmas show and sale with an event in which schoolchildren will play a pivotal role.
Christened the “St Boswells Christmas Cracker”, the show and sale of prime cattle and lambs, in association with the Royal Bank of Scotland, will be on Tuesday, December 4 at the company’s mart in Newtown St Boswells and replaces the normal shows/sales which had been scheduled for December 3 and 10.
As well as attractive prize money for the cattle and sheep exhibits, there will be a section for Borders Federation of Young Farmers’ stock and the final judging of the new Inter-School Young Auctioneer’s Competition.
Swan’s managing director, Jack Clark, says the reasoning behind the new event, is straightforward.
“This will be a high-profile event aimed at bringing awareness of food production to a broad sector of the community, while at the same time providing livestock producers, butchers and wholesalers with an opportunity of displaying the top quality beef and lamb for which the Borders and the rest of Scotland is renowned,” he told TheSouthern.
“We want to raise the level of public awareness of the high quality of produce which comes from the Borders. We are also lucky in this part of the world to have butchers who can provide the public, not only with a high-quality product, but with advice on how to use it as well.
“Traditionally, our Christmas show was incorporated into our weekly sale. This new event will hopefully also raise the profile of an annual Christmas show.”
Mr Clark says people in the Borders already tend to have a better appreciation of agriculture as they live surrounded by it.
“But we want to increase that awareness and want to get the public along to witness for themselves the expertise of local livestock producers.
“More and more people are becoming interested in the provenance and traceability of the food they eat and we want them to see for themselves where it comes from.”
The company has a rolling programme of educational visits for local primary schools and Mr Clark says he has been impressed with the youngsters’ awareness of why cattle, sheep and other animals are brought to the mart.
“These visits let the children see for themselves where their burgers, sausages and lamb chops come from and that’s important if we want to avoid the sort of scenario whereby children think milk is actually made in Tesco or that something like chicken just springs up ready packed in plastic in the supermarket.
“But the local children who have visited the mart seem to have a good level of awareness about what we do at the mart and what the animals are for.”
Mr Clark is particularly pleased about the enhanced role children will play in the Christmas Cracker event.
“The idea is that each of the primary schools that acts as a feeder school for Earlston High School is going to put froward a nominee from its primary seven class who will all have to go through an audition as an auctioneer.
“Then a shortlist of three will be drawn up and the winner will be asked to auction a sheep at the Christmas Cracker, with the proceeds in aid of a good cause.”
Cattle judges for the Christmas Cracker will be John Anderson, North Berwick; George Deans, Shaws Fine Meats, Lauder; James Allan, Malcolm Allan & Sons, Falkirk. The lamb judge will be James Curle, Bowsden, Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The overall champion and reserve in the single animal cattle section will receive a trophy and a prize of £500, while there will be a trophy and £250 up for grabs in the lamb section.