Sailors from HMS Raleigh become sheep herders for the day

A group of recruits from HMS Raleigh herded a flock of sheep across Southwark Bridge in London.

“When the Captain said, “I’ve got a job for you,” I wasn’t expecting this,” said Lieutenant Commander Matt Cullen who led the recruits.

“I will often tell the recruits that the thing I love about being in the Royal Navy is the opportunity to do random stuff that normal people don’t get to do. I’ll be honest, of all the unique things I’ve done in my career, driving sheep across the Thames is about as random as it gets.”

The recruits were invited to the historic event by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen who are affiliated with HMS Raleigh.

The journey across the bridge has been conducted since medieval times, when sheep farmers drove their flocks across London Bridge into the City of London to sell them at market. 

It saw 50 North of England Mule Sheep driven across Southwick Bridge by the Worshipful Company and their guests, including celebrity chef Richard Corrigan. 

The sheep were selected from a 600-strong flock on a farm in Bedford, chosen for their personalities and calmness under pressure – which they needed when the sailors were offered the chance to herd them.

“It was a great experience, and not something I thought I would be doing on joining the Navy, but it was brilliant to be able to represent the Service and talk to such a wide range of people,” said AB2 Jacob Priest. 

“To then have the chance to herd the sheep across the bridge, it was pretty surreal but so much fun. Definitely something I’ll remember,” he added.