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Huw is show president

Created on 28/07/2018 @ 09:03
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Farmer Huw Francis is looking forward to his proud day as president of Llanfyllin Show on August 11, less than three years after almost losing his life in a cattle attack.

Huw recalls the fateful day in September 2015 when he went to check the sheep on his upland farm with one of his beloved sheepdogs. A cow, which was protecting her calf, took exception to the dog’s presence and set about attacking Huw and other cows from his herd joined in.

Left with multiple injuries, luckily he was still able to use his mobile phone to alert his wife, Alwena, and was flown by air ambulance to hospital in Stoke-on-Trent where surgeons set about saving his life. He had broken every rib, his sternum, three bones in his spine and a leg, yet lived to tell the tale.

“I was very lucky and owe my life to the air ambulance crew and the doctors and nurses at Stoke,” said Huw. “I was fortunate because a nurse at Stoke told me I was the fourth patient they had treated after a cattle attack and I was the only one to go out alive.”

He spent seven weeks being treated at Stoke and another three weeks in hospitals at Shrewsbury and Welshpool. He now has a metal rod inserted to reinforce his spine and goes to the gym twice a week to exercise and keep mobile.

Understandably, the attack has left him apprehensive around cattle. Incredibly, it was the second time he had survived an animal attack, the first happening as a young man when an aggressive bull tossed him over a barrier.

Turning to Llanfyllin Show, which he has supported for more than 40 years, he said he doesn’t normally get to see much of the event, as he’s busy helping to run the sheepdog trials, which is a passion.

He breeds and trains sheepdogs which can command prices up to £4,000 each and has won “a few” open competitions but the open prize at Llanfyllin has so far eluded him.

He believes the advent of farm quad bikes and motorbikes has “spoiled” a lot of good sheepdogs. “Nowadays, farmers rely too heavily on motorbikes to chase sheep rather than allowing the dogs to gather them,” he said

He has seen major changes at Llanfyllin Show over the years, with the demise of sections for pigs and cattle and rodeo and horse jumping competitions, as the event had evolved to embrace people from towns as well as the countryside.

“I think it’s important to keep the show’s agricultural status because it’s a showcase for farmers,” he added.

Huw and Alwena have three children and six grandchildren. With their son Gerallt, they farm 370 acres at Penllwyn, which overlooks the town and was purchased by Huw’s late father in 1955. Traditionally a beef and sheep farm, it is now diversifying into chicken rearing.

Llanfyllin Show is held at Bodfach Park by permission of the Bodfach Trust and Janet Jones. Headline attraction at this year’s action-packed show is Flyin Ryan motorcycle stunt show.

Other attractions include Porthywaen Silver Band, sheep shearing, sheepdog trials, a vintage machinery display, a fun fair, classes for horses, sheep, goats, horticulture, floral art, cookery and crafts, a Village Green, a Punch & Judy show, children’s races and an It’s a Knockout competition.

Picture caption:

Huw Francis with one of his sheepdogs.

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