Stuart Connor dedicates British shearing record to daughter Grace
23 September 2019
Oxfordshire farmer Stuart Connor has set a new British record, shearing 785 lambs in nine hours. He dedicated the achievement to his three-year-old daughter Grace, who died from mitochondrial disease last April.
Since losing Grace in April 2018, Stuart and his wife, Kira, have worked tirelessly to make a difference for other families affected by the disease. So far 'Team Grace' has raised over £60,000 for the Lily Foundation in Grace's memory.
Stuart's marathon shearing effort raised over £5,000, thanks to fellow farmers and local businesses who sponsored his record attempt at Fern Hill Farm in Compton Martin, Somerset.
Stuart had originally set his sights on the world record of 867 lambs, but once it became clear he wasn't going to make that total he decided to push for the British record instead.
Speaking to Farmers Weekly shortly after the event, he said:
"It was touch and go for a while. The world record didn't happen, we just couldn't get the numbers. But we wanted to keep bashing away at the British record, we were down for that. We kept plugging away and we managed to do it."
Asked how it felt to be the new British record holder, he replied, "Sore!"
I wanted to be Grace's hero. As it turned out, she became mine."Stuart sheared for nine hours within a 12-hour period, taking breaks for rehydration and massages to ease his aching muscles. He broke the previous record – held by Welshman Gareth Daniel since 2016 – by four lambs. Understandably emotional after the event, he said:
"It all started with my daughter, so I didn't want to give up. And all the fundraising we've done...it's a big drive."
Many in the crowd were moved to tears as Stuart spoke about being spurred on by the memory of his daughter.
"I really wanted to make Grace proud, to be her hero, but as it turned out she became mine," he said.
Stuart only started shearing competitively three years ago, after going along to a shearing event with his family.
"I did quite well and thought, you know what, this is something Grace can be really proud of, I'll give it a crack."
When Grace died, Stuart threw himself into competitive shearing as a way to cope, qualifying for the national team against the odds and competing in the World Shearing Championships.
"The sheep shearing community has been really supportive," he said. "It's a small industry, and even though we're all competing everyone helps you out. It's quite incredible, and it just shows how touched people have been."
Help make a difference
Help Stuart and Kira bring hope to other families affected by mito by donating to Team Grace here.