AUGUST 25, 2009: More than 10,000 visitors flocked to the Castle Hill Estate, Filleigh, Devon, at the weekend, to enjoy the National Sheepdog Trials and Country Fair.

It was the first time the National Sheepdog Trials had been held in Devon for 10 years, providing a welcome boost to farmers and the rural economy, said Mike Townsend, director of Savills, which sponsored the event. “It is very exciting to be able to host such a prestigious event in the South West. The sheepdog trials provide a competitive platform for farmers to demonstrate their, and their dogs’, abilities, as well as a fun and educational day out for the general public.” Savills’ Paul Smalley, who manages the Castle Hill Estate, said the event was a wonderful opportunity to raise money for the Estate and the North Devon Hospice charity, while at the same time supporting grass-roots farming. “Sheepdog trials are all about practical shepherding – the ability to round up and select sheep is a key part of day-to-day farming. Many people went away saying it was the best English National Sheepdog Trials there has ever been, and in a sport that tends to be dominated by the North of England, it was wonderful for Eamonn Lawless, from the Isle of Wight, to scoop the top prize.” Castle Hill owner, the Countess of Arran, said it had taken about a year to organise the event, but she was thrilled to have helped raise tens of thousands of pounds for the North Devon Hospice. With the Estate already hosting weddings, corporate events and parties, as well as running a thriving 750-cow dairy herd, she hoped to build on this success with an eye to the future.