11th World Galloway Congress, Scotland – August 2016

Suncrest’s Karen & Bob Curry attended the 11th World Galloway Congress in Gretna Green, Scotland from 5-10 August 2016, along with 14 other Breeder members from NZ! As soon as good friends and fellow Galloway breeders in Germany – Cord & Martina, knew the Curry’s were attending the Congress, they invited them to stay at their farm near Dusseldorf and travel with them by road/ferry (Amsterdam – Newcastle), and then on up to Scotland. Cord & Martina run a family wedding/function/catering operation in a couple of magnificent old barns on the Kammesheidt Family farm, where, as part of the catering, they feature their own home grown bar-b-que’d Galloway meat. They also run a business whereby they supply Galloway meat packs for sale on line.

The World Galloway Congress are held every 2 years and this is the 5th one with Suncrest representation, previous ones being New Zealand in 2008, Denmark in 2010, Canada in 2012, Germany in 2014 and now this year in Scotland in 2016. It was also the largest Congress ever due mainly to the fact that the surrounding Dumfries Galloway region of Scotland is the home of Galloway Cattle and delegates world-wide were keen to visit the origin of the breed.

Delegations arrival

Having more than 250 people attending must have been very challenging for the organisers, but they did a wonderful job, with splendid Scottish hospitality and a smoothly run and well organised event. Most delegates stayed at the Gretna Hall Hotel, while others stayed nearby at several hotels and B&B’s. The Congress began with registration on Friday afternoon, followed by drinks and a buffet dinner in the Galloway Marquee, erected especially for the event. The next morning they travelled in 5 large coaches to the Dumfries & Lockerbie Show which included the Galloway National Show. At the show there were large numbers of Belted Galloways, a slightly smaller number of (Standard) Galloways, and a few White Galloways, and Galloway Riggits all competing. Each type of Galloways had their own show ring, with about 140 animals in total. All delegates agreed that the quality of the Belted Galloways and (Standard) Galloways was very high indeed, and these were by far the most prominent Galloway breeds in the UK. Being a White Galloway breeder, it was a little disappointing that there were such a small number however the quality of the few White Galloways at the show was very good.

That evening we had the presentation of the flags from each country attending the Congress, Show trophies were presented and a display of Scottish Highland dancing followed by dinner.

Flag presentation

Sunday was the “business” day of the Congress, with the appointment of officers for the next 2 years, and presentation of each countries report on last 2 years activities. Scott McKinnon, the current President, welcomed all delegates and visitors and gave his report. As the next World Congress is to be held in September 2018 in Melbourne, the Australian Belted Galloway Association issued a warm invitation to attend the 2018 Congress. The dates and venues for future World Galloway Conferences were confirmed:

  • November 2020 – Louisville, Kentucky, USA;
  • 2022 – Switzerland;

and Barry McAlley suggested that the South Island, New Zealand host 2024, but this is yet to be confirmed.

The next 3 days saw visits to 8 commercial and pedigree herds, all included Belted or Galloway herds, but the visit to Tim Oliver’s organic farm near Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, England, included a White Galloway herd also. Some farms had many large barns for wintering the animals inside, but others were totally wintered out. Sponsors provided large tractors towing feed trailers (12 at each farm), so that we could pile in and be shown around the farms. This was a great idea and certainly saved a lot of walking and was a great way to view the cattle in each paddock.

Delegations on feed trailers towed by large tractors

One of the farms that wintered out their stock was the Mochrum Herd at Old Place of Mochrum, Port William, Newton Stewart, where we were welcomed by Mr David Bertie, a cousin of the late Miss Flora Stuart, known world-wide as the custodian of the Galloway breed. His herd of 60 cows is one of the oldest established herds in the Belted Galloway herd book. His beautiful property located in a far-flung corner of Wigtownshire, South West Scotland, was one of the highlights, and included a 15th century restored castle with lovely gardens beside the Mochrum Lochs.

Monday night saw our 5 coach loads arrive in Edinburgh at 7pm, for dinner followed by the world famous Edinburgh Tattoo. It was a great experience, and we got a taste of the pending winter, wrapped up in Scottish rugs & balaclavas. The organisers even turned on a snow making machine as part of the show which added to the very cold conditions. We were able to say it snowed in Edinburgh in September!

Wednesday was the final day of the Congress, so after visiting the Ross families farms we arrived at Drumlanrig Castle, home of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. The Duke is President of the Galloway Cattle Society and member of the Belted Galloway Society and is one of the biggest land holders in the UK. Here they were warmly welcomed by the Duke – Richard, as we all assembled for a group photo on the Horseshoe steps in front of the Castle. They were then treated to a delicious lunch of finger food, before a tour of the castle and the extensive gardens. The Duke was very friendly, spending several hours walking around talking individually to the entire group.

A group photo of most of the kiwi contingent. They are from left: Gary Jordan & Janice Beare, Tracy Wood & Geoff, Jill Maxwell & Lynton, John Berridge, Jill & Roger Fraser, Bob & Karen Curry and Barry McAlley. (Not present in the photo were Angela & Garry McNaughton and Phil & Marg Forman).

Roger & Bob sampling the local “Beltie” beer – “it was not a bad drop ma Lad” as they say in Scotland!

It was certainly a very busy and interesting 5 days, and all those that were fortunate enough to attend, will carry many memories of this Congress.

After the Congress we all went our separate ways, Karen & Bob visiting friends in Middlesbrough & Tewksbury England, touring Wales in a rental car. They then travelled across on the Holly head ferry to Dublin where they stayed with the Goodwins (good friends & neighbour’s family). Whilst in Ireland, they took the opportunity to check out some Family genealogy in Northern Ireland, and toured a good portion of Ireland. They then flew to Lisbon and toured Portugal & Spain for a couple of weeks, blobbing out at Lagos before getting back to NZ, having been away approximately 9 weeks. Fortunately all the Galloways at home were doing well under the capable management of on-site manager – Bruce Meek, adding the icing to a very successful trip.