Agricultural shows across Great Britain have been cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic – but that didn't stop two of Pembrokeshire's top sheep breeders from bringing home the prizes again this year.

In an online competition to find their livestock champions of the decade, the Scottish Farmer magazine, in association with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) picked experienced sheep exhibitors Eirlys and Stuart Jones of Maes-Glas, Wolfscastle, as Hampshire Down sheep winners.

The competition pitted section champions of the last ten Royal Highland Shows (2010-2019) against each other, using archive pictures from the official photographers.

Readers of the Scottish Farmer magazine were asked to vote for their favourite exhibit. The top three in the public vote were then independently judged to find the Champion of the Decade.

In the Hampshire Down section, the ten champions were some of the finest sheep in the history of the breed and the competition was fierce.

Having been perennial exhibitors at this show, Eirlys and her Maes-Glas flock actually had two entrants in the list, having won the section championship with a shearling ewe in 2011 and an older ewe in 2015.

However, it was the youngster that caught the eye of the voting public and she was voted in the top three alongside the last year's champion, a senior ewe and a ram lamb champion from 2016.

More success was to come when the judge, the Hampshire Down Sheep Breeders Association president, Mrs Judith Galbraith, voted Eirlys's 2011, homebred shearling ewe as Hampshire Down Champion of the Decade.

A thrilled Eirlys commented: "I am absolutely over the moon, this year marks the Maes-Glas flock's 25th anniversary and we always enjoy showing and going to the Highland Show.

"While this is not the same as actually competing, to be awarded Champion of the Decade with one of our all-time favourite sheep is a real honour"

Son, Stuart, who is also heavily involved in the flock, added: "We have not been to the Highland Show, since 2015 when we actually were also awarded section champion, however it was our intention to compete this year to mark our 25 years and it was fitting that a granddaughter of the 2011 ewe would have been most likely choice to be part of our show team this year."

The 2011 'super ewe' continued to have a stellar career after 2011.

"Soon after her Royal Highland success, the ewe also made the trip to Llanelwedd and was also our first ever Royal Welsh Hampshire Down breed champion and was in the final three of the supreme interbreed at the show," said Eirlys.

Stuart added: "She was actually born in April 2010 which made her some five months younger than her showring peers but she grew so well and always had the amazing natural showring character and this 'look at me' quality.

"Her nickname is Smarty Pants and it is the most fitting name as she just oozes smartness and is a bit of a diva."

The Hampshire Down breed is renowned for its longevity and now at the grand old age of ten, Smarty hasn't lost her charisma.

"She is still a stand-out ewe in the flock and could easily still be shown – she has lost nothing in her age."

Smarty and Caroline, the 2015 champion, continue to produce excellent lambs and showcase the longevity of the breed.

When Eirlys lost her husband, Barry, to cancer in 2017 the Maes-Glas flock underwent a major reduction that same year. But it remains the largest Hampshire Down flock in Wales with 100 breeding ewes and they continue to achieve success in the showring.

"We continue to work hard to produce sheep not just for showing, but for the commercial market and the ever expanding export market. We aim to sell 30 of the best quality rams to commercial breeders in a season," said Eirlys.

Stuart added: "My father would have definitely wanted us not just to continue with the sheep, but also keep progressing both as a flock and as a breed and continue to meet the needs of the commercial farmer. 2020 was going to be a big year for the flock with the anniversary celebrations, but we will have to now wait till 2025 for the 30th anniversary of the flock."