I heard the sad news that Liz Moore has passed away in hospital. Liz Moore holds an important place in the history of Icelandic sheep in the UK.
I first met Liz when she contacted me with Dick Philips having learnt that I owned a small flock of Icelandic sheep. Liz had worked for Dick when he owned his travel agency business arranging trekking across Iceland.
Prior to 1990, Icelandics were bred from 7 sheep imports (Ownership in Flocks 1 and Flocks 17) and most sheep sold within the UK were crossbred or ‘upbred’. The first import of sheep to the UK happened in 1979 then a major importation happened in 1990, with a small number imported in 1991. Liz is regarded as the major driving force behind the import which happened in 1990 and is described as working tirelessly on behalf of the individuals involved bringing in patterns and horns that breeders did not previously have in their flocks.
Sheep went to flocks numbered 1, 3, 6, 9, 13,15,18,19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 31, 44, and a subsequent number were imported separately and went to flock 45.
In an extraordinary twist of fate, when I moved to the North Peninnes and started with Icelandics (sourced in Scotland) I found that Liz Moore and Dick Phillips both had homes in the Alston area only about half an hour away from where I lived. Her contact with me was the start of our friendship.
Liz had lived in the Alston area of Northumberland on a smallholding when she had her sheep. She showed me some of her photographs of sheep which had come from Iceland. This was after two years of negotiations and administration and which today still provide some of the foundation stock of our flock in the British Isles. When she sold her own flock, in another quirk of fate, that sale had been to a mutual friend who brought her cattle to graze on our smallholding in the summer months.
Anecdotes included the tale of the journey across Iceland which had to be non stop as sheep were not allowed to move between districts. There was a last minute hiccup in testing arrangements, which threatened the whole process and then quarantine and the distribution of the sheep across the UK to those individuals who had entered into the importation arrangements, some to the Scottish Islands, some to the south of the UK.
The imported sheep had been used to grazing across summer pasture in Iceland extending over many hundreds of miles and I heard that their inclination to roam across our northern moors meant that some of our local Swaledales may have unintended Icelandic characteristics.
I found Liz to be a very sociable person. She introduced me to a number of people, who had been interested directly and indirectly in the importation efforts years ago and would bring her visitors and friends across to see some of the sheep types which she recognised as descended from her own stock from years ago. She was also well informed and interested in many of the studies undertaken on this type of ancient primitive breed of sheep maintaining a scrap book of articles, anecdotes and scientific papers on the studies which have been undertaken mainly in Iceland through the years. She was also an artist, I have some of her decorated pots, and interested in the craftwork of others. She introduced me to friends who had a wide variety of craft skills to share.
I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know her.