A young shepherd from the Eden area has been named as Farm Worker of the Year in the British Farming Awards.
Murray Craig, 20, was awarded the accolade during an online ceremony hosted by comedian Vernon Kay.
Murray, a farmer’s son from Lanarkshire who has been at Swindale Foot Farm, Haweswater, since he left school four years ago.
His hard work and dedication have allowed owners Matty and Dani Blair to expand into beef on another unit, which they say would otherwise have been impossible.
He manages 800 Swaledale and North Country Cheviot ewes across hill farms spanning 9,500 acres, and helps with a further 850 at the second farm.
Shepherding at Swindale Foot presents many challenges, with the sheep roaming freely across the fells in summer, requiring Murray to spend long spells gathering them — anything to to 12 hours on the largest areas.
Later in the year the ewes are over-wintered at Cambridge, leaving Murray to focus on helping in the management of the 300-strong beef herd, which are sold as stores at the local mart.
He also leads the lambing and shearing on the sites, and has travelled to New Zealand for the last three years, working on sheep stations in both the North and South islands shearing up to 10,000 sheep.
Murray says his time in New Zealand has improved his shearing skills, which has saved his employers money back in Cumbria.
His knowledge has also helped when introducing new feeding and grazing regimes into the flock to help reduce feed costs.
For Murray, his proudest achievement is being trusted by the owners to manage the sheep independently and tackle daily farming challenges using his own knowledge and expertise to make informed decisions.
He also rents some land within the business to develop his own operation under a share-farming agreement with the owners, and says he will concentrate on developing this to help secure his future career aspirations.