British Wool Shearing Man-
ager Colin MacGregor has
retired after 20 years ser-vice.
A former world-renowned Scottish Shearing Champion, Colin has not only played a major role in British Wool, he has made a key contribution to the progression and standard of shearing across the UK.
Colin sheared his first sheep with hand shears, aged 10, at his home in Lochearnhead. He started out as a British Wool shearing instructor before taking up his role as senior instructor. During his career Colin has instructed thousands of shearers across the UK and Europe.
When he started with British Wool as senior instructor for northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, there was only one course available, the Advanced Shearing Course. Today, British Wool offers hundreds of courses, at all levels every year, and for every aspect of shearing and wool preparation.
From the outset, Colin’s basic philosophy has always been to set the proper foundation, so every young person wishing to learn to shear gets taught correctly from the word go.
Colin said: “When setting up 20 years ago, we benefited from European funding, which enabled us to train and mentor instructors. The legacy today is a UK-wide framework of highly skilled shearing instructors, who train and support young shearers at all levels.
Colin has no hesitation in saying that he feels this has been one of his greatest achievements: “I am most proud of the quality of shearers and the standard of shearing that we have here in the UK today. This is, without a doubt, as a result of the tremendous team of instructors and mentors that we have put together.”
A former high achiever himself, today Colin is more excited about British young shearers doing well in international competitions, than when he became Scottish Champion twice in the 1980s and represented Scotland on the international stage. Colin himself has taught many shearing stars, including former World Champion Gavin Mutch.
While shearing is at an all-time high, Colin acknowledges there have been major industry changes. “There are fewer sheep than 20 years ago, however, the quality of our sheep is exceptional, and I believe our farmers are producing some of the very best in the world.
“It disappoints me that wool in general is undervalued, so the challenge of the future is to get more people to understand and appreciate the versatility of this natural fibre, so it can attract more markets and better returns.”
Colin sees a bright future for shearers. He adds: “You can earn a good living out of shearing, and at the moment the opportunities for young shearers are great as there is a shortage of them in Australia and New Zealand. So, my advice would be to spread your wings and enjoy the associated travel.”