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From London Tube to Skipton Sheep Shed

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In the wool shed at Banongill East, Skipton

TRAVELLING to and from work on London’s tube, Herbie Hill-Reid, 25, saw many images of friends and former fellow university students posting photos from their gap year/ escaping life year from their visit to Australia.

The classically trained singer (he was taught by international opera singer Jonathan Veira) , who hails from Hampshire, thought the timing was right for him to do the same thing, do some exploring, gain experience in other types of work and hopefully do some singing along the way.

The Robert Headley Song Competition, Chichester 2015.

And he did it. Herbie has been in Australia for two months working at Banongill East, a large sheep and cropping farm in Skipton for most of that time.

“Twenty-five years ago my aunty Penny au paired for the chap who is now my age, and is the farmer’s son,” Herbie explained.

“My aunt kept in touch with the family all these years and when she found out I was coming to Australia she said give them a call and see if they want anything done on the farm.

“Charlie and Amanda have 10,000 sheep and lots of arable land and I came to learn about sheep and cropping and those sorts of things. I have been working in the sheep shed, which was a bit daunting because I had no idea what I was doing but I tend to pick things up quite quickly, I was drenching, dagging, rousing and throwing fleeces on tables, scarifying paddocks, there was lots of fencing and things to do but I declined to join the shearing team.” “The family has been extremely welcoming, they have gone out of their way to make me feel at home and I didn’t know them at all when I came out, they have embraced me and been very warm hearted and are genuinely lovely people.” Herbie has also been welcomed into the Ballaarat Yacht Club and is grateful for the friendships and help that he has received there.

“I walked into the yacht club one weekend and met Emma Littlejohn, the daughter of the commodore, a fortunate circumstance and she gave me Colin’s number,” Herbie said.

“I’d done a lot of sailing in the UK and I’ve got my yacht masters exam, which I’d just taken with the hope of getting some yachting work in Australia.” Currently Herbie is looking for work and is open to offers. He is interested in any type of work, wanting to add to his list of skills.

“I think I may have a singing job waiting in Melbourne, if I choose to go back there but I’d also like to go and do my own stuff and get some farming underway,” Herbie said.

“So singing has taken a backseat for now but it is (music) the core of my being.

“I look up to Bryn Terfel a Welsh international bass baritone who I have followed since I won a singing prize back in school when I was 13 and was presented with a CD of his songs.

“I went to see him in concert, in London, and after the concert I went and stood in a line, which I thought was a line of audience members but it was a line of his family – aunts, uncles and various people who had actually registered and I ended up in that line and got to meet him.”