“I received a photograph from Judith Pleasance of Lord Mayor David Wootton pulling stuffed sheep on wheels over London Bridge to raise funds for charity. We felt that more should be made of this tradition and discussed an event with real sheep. Others had done it – the World Traders in 2008, and in 2009 the City organised an 800th anniversary of Old London Bridge with sheep and stalls.
I worked up a business plan for a charity fundraising event which was accepted by the Woolmen’s Court of Assistants. Liverymen Chris Thierry and Vincent Keaveny consulted the Department of the Built Environment at the City of London Corporation and planning began in earnest based on their discussions…
…Our primary concern was animal health and welfare, closely followed by human health and safety. Nothing would be done that might compromise these aspects of the sheep drive. Meetings took place the Animal Reception Centre (who handle veterinary matters for the City of London), the City of London Police, the Highways Agency (who own and manage the bridge), Transport for London (who are responsible for traffic over it) and the RSPCA. The plan was written and accepted, veterinary surgeons were arranged, traffic barriers were ordered, security stewards briefed and portaloos booked.
And we needed some sheep. Fortunately, I knew David and Barbara Seamark from their support with sheep and sheep dogs for the Woolmen’s float in the Lord Mayors Show. Although they were a little taken aback initially, they soon warmed to the idea!
Over the years we have been admirably supported by the Guild of Young Freemen who have provided stewards since the second year, the Cadets, Woodlands Farm Trust and other volunteers.
In 2014 Aardman Animations launched Shaun the Sheep figures across the cities of London and Bristol, and they arranged for Shaun to appear at the sheep drive. This inspired the idea of an annual celebrity sheep driver, and we have had Dame Barbara Windsor, Nigel Mansell CBE, Dame Mary Berry, Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Michael Portillo and Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess. “
Bill Clark – Past Master of The Woolmen (2013)
The Seamarks, their dogs & sheep
David and Barbara Seamark have worked tirelessly over the years bringing their wonderful North of England Mule sheep to the event every year, including more recently additional young sheep to take part in the Livery Fair expert blade shearing demonstrations.
The lives of the great and the good Honorary Freemen of the City of London
Bill has spent six years researching and editing this book about the lives of the 265 people who have been voted the Honorary Freedom of the City of London of whom only nine recipients are alive today. The stories behind all these Great and Good men and women are a fascinating reminder of the varied and often controversial history of the United Kingdom.
A fascinating book by Past Master Woolman, Bill Clark, exploring the lives of Honorary Freemen since 1674, with all proceeds donated toThe Lord Mayor’s Appeal and The Woolmen Charity.