Maintaining an ancient tradition

As if they haven’t been busy enough organising the Guild’s annual Harvest Service & Lunch and planning the IFAJ Congress 2014, British Guild of Agricultural Journalists members Adrian Bell and Howard Venters took time out to exercise their ancient right as Liverymen of the City of London to drive sheep across London Bridge.

The right to drive sheep across London Bridge - once London's only bridge across the River Thames - dates back several hundred years
The right to drive sheep across London Bridge – once London’s only bridge across the River Thames – dates back several hundred years

The Worshipful Company of Woolmen organised the sheep drive to raise funds for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and, so far, has achieved £37,500. Howard, as a Liveryman of the Woolman and Farmers companies, was involved in the organisation and logistics – including 50 drives of the sheep back-and-forth across the bridge – while Adrian volunteered Whisper.pr’s services, including new recruit Sam Hiner, to publicise the day.

“We saw more than a few turned heads and double-takes as drivers, bus passengers, walkers and cyclists realised that there really was a flock of ten sheep being herded along a cordoned-off bus lane,” says Adrian. “Coverage from the event was superb, with a slot on the ITV evening news and photographs in The Times, Independent, Financial Times and Evening Standard.”

Assistance with shepherding, came from a collaboration of City Farms, including Surrey Docks, one of the tour venues for the pre-IFAJ Congress 2014 programme in London and southern England, and The Worshipful Company of Farmers also put up a team, including Guild member Rosie Carne.

“It was a remarkable day and great to be taking part in a tradition – and to exercise a privilege – that dates back almost 1000 years,” says Adrian.

From left: Bill Clark, Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen; Howard Venters, Liveryman of the Farmers and Woolmen companies; Adrian Bell, Liveryman of the Farmers Company; and David Seamark, who provided the sheep for the day.
From left: Bill Clark, Master of the Worshipful Company of Woolmen; Howard Venters, Liveryman of the Farmers and Woolmen companies; Adrian Bell, Liveryman of the Farmers Company; and David Seamark, who provided the sheep for the day.

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