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Debbie breaks new ground.

Byline: By Hayley Beattie

Farmer's daughter Debbie Watson is preparing to plough a lonely furrow ( the only girl in a national skills competition.

Debbie, 15, of Bingfield Farm, Bingfield, near Corbridge, Northumberland, is the first female competitor from the county to qualify for the British National Ploughing Championship.

She is expected to be the only girl in her class ( the Young Farmers' vintage conventional plough ( at the event in October in Guildford. A member of Cambo Young Farmers' Club, Debbie qualified after winning a match at Nafferton Farm, near Stocksfield.

A pupil at Haydon Bridge High School, Debbie says she has always been interested in machinery after watching her dad, Geoff, in ploughing competitions. She has been competing for two years.

She said: "There's just something about the old ploughs that I love. They are much simpler than the modern ones and much easier to fix."

Debbie plans to take part in a number of matches to get as much practice as she can on the Massey Ferguson 1952 plough and 1959 tractor.

She said: "To be good at ploughing you have to be able to drive in a straight line, you have to know how the machine works and you have to have real attention to detail."

Geoff, 45, said: "I think what she has achieved is great."

Chairman of the British Ploughing Association, Charlie Halliday, of Station Road, Allendale, said he was delighted by Debbie's success.

"She is the first woman from the area to plough in the British competition and has got the confidence and interest to do well.

"What the association is trying to do is retain the skills and art of ploughing which have been lost over the years."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 8, 2006
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