"He instantly recognised me," said Scottish woman who travelled 540 miles to save lamb

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A Scottish crofter made a 540-mile round trip to save a lamb from slaughter - after she regretted selling him.

Melanie MacLean, aged 50, hand-reared her pet lamb Norman who was the smallest of a set of triplets and was rejected by his mum when he was born in April.

Crofter Melanie MacLean thought of Norman as her dog. Picture: swns

Crofter Melanie MacLean thought of Norman as her dog. Picture: swns

The little lamb could have died had Ms MacLean not intervened to watch over him for the first 48-hours of life.

But last month, Melanie, from Benbecula, Outer Hebrides, sold the pet at a nearby market in Lochmaddy in North Uist.

The Suffolk lamb was picked up by farmers Irene, 66, and Jim Fowlie, 69, who purchased 600 sheep at the sale on September 2, and was taken to their farm near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

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Crofter Melanie MacLean, 50, made a 540-mile round trip from Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides to a farm near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire to save her lamb Norman from slaughter. Picture: SWNS

Crofter Melanie MacLean, 50, made a 540-mile round trip from Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides to a farm near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire to save her lamb Norman from slaughter. Picture: SWNS

However, the former policewoman couldn't stop thinking about Norman, and almost a month later, she decided wanted him back, setting off on a 16 hour round trip from her remote croft to rescue him.

Arriving at the farm in Aberdeenshire, Mr Fowlie took Ms MacLean to the 75 acre field where Norman was living with 700 other sheep.

She was left stunned when Norman ran 'like a bullet' towards her after instantly recognising her.

Recalling Norman's birth, Ms MacLean said: "Sheep normally shouldn't have more than two because they struggle to feed them.

Melanie MacLean with Norman after his birth in April. Picture: SWNS

Melanie MacLean with Norman after his birth in April. Picture: SWNS

"They have to have their mother's milk within the first six hours or else they'll die.

"He was very weak when he was born and couldn't stand or lift his head.

"Under a heat lamp he gradually got better and as he got stronger I knew he'd be fine."

Other crofters eventually convinced her to sell Norman when he was old enough, saying: "Don't be silly, you'll get over it."

But Ms MacLean felt attached to the lamb, saying he was like a dog to her.

Emotional reunion

Her husband Allan told her to give herself a few weeks to get over the emotional parting, but she couldn't forget about Norman.

After waiting a while, she decided to get him back: "I was a little embarrassed about phoning Irene but I just had to bite the bullet.

"I called her and explained the situation but she was instantly welcoming.

Ms MacLean said she 'burst into tears' during her emotional reunion with Norman.

She said: "I took my crofter's jacket and a pink hat I used to wear all the time.

"We drove into the field and we were seeing all these white lambs everywhere. We drove past a few then after 20 or 30 seconds I spotted a round ear tag I had been using.

"He was lying down and then I stepped out and was going to shout, then he just stood up and ran like a bullet towards me. I've never seen a lamb run that fast.

"I just said 'come on Norman, let's go home'."

The farmer Mrs Fowlie let her take Norman back free of charge and said: "It's truly amazing.

"She fell in love with him and couldn't get over it.

"We'll remember it for a long time - she was so grateful."