Samuel Wharry: Carnlough man whose world was sheep farming
THE sudden death of Samuel Wharry at just 56 years of age shocked not only his family but all those who knew him for his activities on behalf of sheep farming in Northern Ireland and further afield.
Samuel’s life was Harphall, Carnlough. It was his destiny and one he embraced.
He left school at 16 because his father had a heart attack and needed help on the farm but Samuel’s education didn’t stop there. He educated himself every day of his life, reading and watching informative programmes on TV.
Samuel was just 31 when, supported by his parents William and Anna May, he was named the Northern Ireland National Sheep Association (NSA) 'sheep farmer of the year'.
He started performance recording his Blackface sheep to allow better selection of breeding stock and joined a group of breeders in NI and Scotland, serving as its chairman.
When the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Hillsborough put together a scheme where they used partner farms for research, Samuel became involved and Harphall is still working on trials.
He was also invited onto the AgriSearch sheep advisory board, which he also chaired.
Samuel did not take these roles lightly and it is easiest summed up by a quote from himself: “If it’s on my watch it’ll be done right.”
The NSA was established in Northern Ireland in 1988 and when Samuel joined he became its treasurer. From having just £8 in the bank and £10 of bills to pay, its secure financial position today is due to his ingenuity in those early days.
From 2010 to 2012 he served as branch chairman, and in 2015 he was unanimously elected UK chairman, a role he held in his death.
He was also instrumental in setting up the biennial event NSA Sheep Northern Ireland.
Samuel was much loved by his four sisters, Mary, Nancy, Esther and Elizabeth, and his nephews and nieces. When they came to the house he always took time to listen to what they were doing and share his wide knowledge of the world.
There was a bit of banter too because he was able to pick up on their wee foibles and keep them going.
But Samuel’s world was sheep. It was the world he inherited and lived his life in. His work with the NSA brought him great satisfaction and gave him the opportunity to travel, have new experiences and broaden his horizons.
While he embraced the innovations, technologies and the future of sheep farming, you could always still find him happily standing beside a pen of pet lambs. It was no coincidence that he died whilst working with a pen of sheep.
Those of us who had the privilege and pleasure of working with Samuel will not forget his modesty as well as his considerate and patient manner.