James W A Graham passed away in December after a battle with cancer. James was the founder member of the Ouessant Society of Great Britain and brought the very first Ouessants into the UK. Indeed much of the UK flock book can be traced back to stock brought in by him from Europe. He was Society chair for several years, and after he stood down leaving the responsibility to others the society gave him the title of President. James continued to be active within the society, most recently working with the breed standard working group.
James first became aware of the Ouessant after seeing them mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest sheep. After much research, his quest to find them took him to Europe where he discovered a small band of enthusiasts in Holland, and others in France and Belgium. He managed to buy one ram and two ewes to set up a nucleus flock but before he could import any into the UK he had to breed a generation that was both scrapie-free and would meet other UK veterinary health regulations. This meant leaving them with a friend in Holland. Within two years, James flew his first Ouessant from Holland to the UK and began to build up his flock. The rest is history.
James’ skill was not confined to Ouessants. His father was the first major exporter of Charolais cattle from France and James was heavily involved in supplying ostriches to the UK and US from South Africa, and was one of the first major importers of Alpacas from Chile. Recently he has exported Ouessant semen to the US, where the import of live sheep is prohibited.
His expertise, knowledge and enthusiasm for the Ouessant breed, delivered with plenty of common sense and a wry sense of humour, will be sadly missed. Plans are afoot to purchase a Society cup in his name, to be presented for the best Ouessant sheep at future society held shows. Our thoughts are with his family; his sons James and William, and his partner Jenny. RIP James.