George Willows

Tuesday 10 November 2020

Special interest matter speech


George and Paul Willows

Mr PRESIDENT - We also have joining us in the President's Reserve this morning George Willows and his father, Paul, who are here for a reason that will become obvious shortly as we move into the first business of the day and that is the special interest speech. To reveal why George and Paul are with us, I invite the honourable member for Launceston.

SPECIAL INTEREST MATTERS

George Willows - English Leicester Sheep Stud

[11.07 a.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I welcome George and his dad here today. It is wonderful to have them here. Today I speak about an extraordinary young man who goes to school at Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston, George Willows, who is now in grade 6, farms a heritage breed stud of English Leicester sheep at his parents' farm Everton, in Evandale. The English Leicester is a very rare breed of sheep first developed by eighteenth century breeding innovator, Robert Brakewell. George describes English Leicesters as being great mothers who have attitude but can handle tough conditions. They are slow growing, but this results in a much more unique and flavoursome meat. Their wool is curly, long and dense and is a sought-after product for crafters, felters and weavers.

At school George is a diligent, conscientious and hardworking student with a particular interest in how to apply learning creatively to his farming practices, such as relating maths investigations to his stock currency and spreadsheets. According to George's year 4 teacher, George is a leader in teaching others how technology can be personalised to learning needs, having conducted investigations into how his own learning could be improved by using novel approaches to the application of certain technologies regarding visual processing.

On the farm, George also takes a leadership role in looking after his English Leicesters. The stud named Nant after his maternal grandfather's Bothwell property, now known as Nant Distillery, has been built up to a flock of 52 ewes, 12 rams and 60 lambs. George's grandfather, Ian Campbell, first bought the stud of English Leicester sheep when he was a student at Scotch Oakburn in 1945. Before Ian passed away around 11 years ago, he was adamant that his precious stud should be preserved.

At the tender age of eight, George took up the gauntlet and channelled his Dad-pa's passion for the rare breed. George is also not shy to take on the hard work, doing almost all the electronic tagging, vaccinating, weighing, crutching, drenching, milking, feeding, treating mastitis, record keeping and showing.

George is a fierce competitor at the Tasmanian shows, having competed since 2017. Anyone in the industry will tell you how much work goes into preparing for competitions and George is not afraid to take up the challenge. Two months before a competition George will pick his entrants, spend hours teaching them to be handled and walked on a lead, as well as how to stand calmly for inspection. Anyone who has even spent a few moments with sheep will understand just how wilful they are by nature. The fact that George takes the time to get to know his entrants, train them, and positively reinforce their behaviour shows just what a patient person George is.

Closer to the competition, George undertakes all the grooming duties - teeth, feet, ears, faces and noses - and, on the day, George coordinates and organises with his helpers to make sure all his entrants are where they need to be. You certainly get a sense of all the leadership qualities George possesses at school and in competitions, knowing all of the thought and preparation that happens behind the scenes.

In addition to the Tasmanian shows, George has competed in past Australian sheep and wool shows. In 2019, all his hard work reached a high point when his best ram, Benny, was awarded reserve champion in the English Leicester class. This win resulted in George's first sale, and has opened the door to further competitions in the future. Ultimately, I am told, George wants to be a builder and a farmer. He takes a practical approach to his learning on the farm with his dad Paul who, needless to say, is incredibly proud of everything George has already achieved.

Mr President, it is so fantastic to see our young people - particularly George, here - with so much dedication, ambition and skill. George is a wonderful example of a person with humility, achieving great things by working hard, taking responsibility, and leading by example. I am sure we will hear many, many more stories of George's successes in years to come. I commend you, George, on the work you have done, and thank you very much for coming down today.

Members - Hear, hear.

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