THE POPULAR family-run farm in East Dean has celebrated its 25th anniversary.
From its humble origins in 1987, the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre has seen visitors flock from all over to see the largest private collection of sheep breeds in the world.
And despite all the challenges that have faced both the farming community, such as foot and mouth and the tough economic environment for the tourism industry, it has continued to thrive and marked its 25 years with a country fair.
The centre, which boasts 57 of the 63 different British breeds of sheep, is run by Terry and Pam Wigmore.
Back in 1987 Terry was the shepherd and livestock manager for the Gilbert estate.
Each year when the sheep were brought down to the yards for lambing there was a crowd looking over the gate hoping to see a lamb being born.
When the Gilbert estate decided to become an arable only farm, Terry and Pam decided to build on the interest at lambing time and open the doors of the farm to the public.
Their daughter Beck Wigmore said, “What makes the sheep centre so popular with the public is how it has kept true to its working farm origins and has not bowed to the pressure of becoming a farm-themed attraction, with just a handful of animals and lots of play equipment.
“Instead it remains a working sheep farm, opening its doors for a restricted period in the spring for lambing and then again in the summer for shearing and sheep milking.”
To mark its special anniversary the sheep centre held a country fayre and despite the bad weather in the morning, there was a sunny spell in the afternoon and visitors were treated to gun dog displays, veteran vehicles, ferret racing, farmers market stalls and much more.
The winner of the photo memory competition was Zita Daniels with her favourite memory of visits to the sheep centre being when she put hair grips in her sponsored lamb’s fleece when it wasn’t very well to make it feel better.
Zita won a lamb sponsorship for spring 2013.
A raffle was also held in aid of Save Chloe’s Sight with one of the prizes being a cushion made at the centre, with wool spun from different fleeces of sheep from the farm. The cushion was won by Denise Burgess and the raffle raised £130.
The centre is now closed but will be re-opening its doors in spring 2013.