LAST year, Claudia Kirton from Walcha decided that she wanted to enter the annual Tamworth Livestock Selling Agents Association (TLSAA) Spring Lamb Show in Tamworth on the first Monday of spring.
Today, after one of the worst droughts on record and a devastating cyclone that smashed her family property just days before Christmas, 11-year-old Claudia took centre stage at Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange (TRLX) surrounded by some of the industry's best producers, buyers and livestock agents as she and her father Angus were awarded the JV Goodwin Memorial Shield for the champion pen of lambs.
TLSAA award the JV Goodwin Memorial Shield each year in memory of the late Jason Goodwin who was a great sheep man and agent, and the names of past winners on the shield is a who's who of the district's top producers.
Angus Kirton said the 90 to 100 kilogram winning lambs were specifically targeted at the show and on feed all year, adding that "they were very different to a commercial enterprise, at a considerable cost to produce, but it was really a project for Claudia and something to focus on in the drought".
Some of that cost was recouped when the champion pen was sold by their agents, Davidson Cameron for $346 a head.
As part of their prize, the family also pocketed cash and product prizes from various sponsors and, in a remarkable display of generosity, then turned around and donated $1000 to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
Agent, Simon Burke said it was a fantastic result given what Angus and Lisa Kirton with their children Claudia and Henry have been through.
"After the cyclone on December 20, their property looked like a war zone - I've never seen carnage like it," Mr Bourke said.
"On top of that, they've had a horrendous drought.
"So, for them to win, and then make a significant donation to the WRHS, really is testimony to the calibre of people they are."
The medium trade category (45kg to 49.5kg) was won by Bernard, Courtney, Paul and Elaine McCulloch, Ripley Pastoral Company, Garoo, and Janet Anderson, Bobby Byrne, Garoo won the light trade (40kg to 44.5kg) category.
Bernie and Paul said although the 230 millimetres of rain they've had this year is well below their annual their average of 711mm, some storms in early March meant they could get some crop out of the ground.
Their winning pen of first-cross lambs were weaned onto lucerne and then oats and haven't seen any grain.
Andrew Jackson of Thomas Foods International was one of three judges and said that the drought "has taught people how to feed - and that is the biggest by-product of the drought."
The show was sponsored by TLSAA, the Goodwin family, Abalene Park, North West Direct Sales, TRLX and Corey's Catering.