A NEW chairman has been elected to the Rare Breeds Survive Trust Cumbria Support Group (RBST).

Paul Murray from Frizington has been elected to the position, with Sarah Miles from Ulverston elected as the new Secretary for the group.

RBST is the national charity working to save and safeguard the future of native breeds of livestock and equines.

The RBST Cumbria Support Group creates a network that helps RBST members in Cumbria work together to boost rare breeds’ chances of survival.

It monitors the localised prospects and challenges for rare breeds, helps deliver conservation programmes, runs a programme of events and encourages new interest in keeping native breeds.

Paul Murray has had an enthusiasm for rare breeds survival from childhood, growing up around a variety of native breeds on the family farm including Jacob, Teeswater, Wensleydale, Portland, Shetland and Herdwick sheep as well as Belted Galloway cattle, and he has won awards across the country for showing his animals at competitions and shows.

RBST Cumbria Support Group Chairman Paul Murray said: “Our native livestock and equine breeds are an irreplaceable part of our national and local heritage, but as farming policy is changing and as more people choose high quality, locally sourced meat these breeds are becoming just as important for the future of farming too.

"Finding the breed that is right for the land is key and our native breeds, which require low inputs and which are bred to suit specific landscapes, have so much to offer.

“There is a great range of people interested in rare breeds throughout Cumbria, from people keeping a handful of animals to large commercial operations, and we are proud to bring everyone together for our common purpose.

"With the show season starting up again after the pandemic, I am especially looking forward to working with Sarah in creating opportunities for young people to work with and show rare breeds.”

Sarah Miles’ interest in rare breeds began after helping with the RBST Young Shepherd’s event at Westmorland County Agricultural Society’s Countryfest in 2017, and became a member of the RBST Cumbria Support Group. Since then, Sarah has introduced rare breeds to her farm including a flock of Border Leicester sheep, British Lop pigs and Saddleback pigs to join her native breed Hampshire Down flock of sheep.

RBST Cumbria Support Group Secretary Sarah Miles said: “With a background in social work with children, I have really enjoyed exploring how working with rare breeds can bring such enjoyment, confidence and responsibility to young people.

"Paul and I are both passionate about introducing more young people in Cumbria to the benefits of rare and native breeds while also creating a vital network for people across our county who are working to conserve these breeds.”

The RBST Cumbria Support Group is looking forward to bringing together young people to celebrate rare sheep breeds at the RBST Young Shepherds Show at Westmorland Showground on May 28 and 29 2022.

The group is encouraging any young people with an interest in rare breeds to come along and find out more by talking with the RBST representatives or by watching the workshops, demonstrations of different breeds, or taking part in the classes for young handlers. Find out more at westmorlandshow.co.uk/items/rbst-young-shepherd-show/

For information visit the RBST Cumbria Group page on facebook or @rbstcumbria on twitter.