Shear we go! Farmers take on the world's best Down Under

By Emma Evans in Local People

TWO local farmers are hoping that they can cut it at the 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling championships in New Zealand.

After achieving success at last year’s Royal Welsh, Ian Jones from Builth Wells and Robyn Charlton from Presteigne are Down Under, hoping to bring world titles back to Brecon and Radnor.

Ian kicks off the campaign for Welsh glory on Thursday 9 February, with team partner Gwion Evans. The pair will be competing in round two of their competition the following day, where Presteigne’s Robyn Charlton is hoping to emulate the success of her mother, Anita Jones, who also represented Wales when the championships were last held in New Zealand in 2012.

The 24-year-old from Walton, Presteigne, has been travelling to New Zealand for the last four seasons, basing herself in the central Southland town of Winton while working for McConachie Shearing Limited. She found love the first year she visited New Zealand, meeting her fiance Nathan Kean, who is also from Walton, and this year she will be sharing the experience with her best friend and woolhandling partner Ffion Jones.

"I wouldn’t want to be on the team with anybody else and I’m so chuffed that it’s with Ffion," Robyn said. "Our team manager keeps saying we’re going to be danger together. I am very nervous but it should be good fun.

"There is a massive difference between what happens here and the wool we handle back home in Wales. At home, everything is shorn as full wool. Then we just take the dags out, slip both sides in, roll it up and make a hole to tuck the neck in. That’s how you place it in the wool bags. It’s a lot different to over here and not technical at all."

Robyn has been honing her skills by entering the Northern Southland, Southland and Otago Shears’ woolhandling competitions and hopes the experience proves invaluable at the competition.

Ian admits that he hasn’t picked up shearers since winning the championship in Builth Wells last year and plans to bow out of competing after the World Championships.

"I am a farmer full-time and shearing, to be honest, is my hobby," he said. "So I haven’t shorn a sheep since the middle of August.

"This is the first World Champs for meÉ. and probably my last. I’m probably going to retire in 12 months to concentrate on farming and look after the kids."

For more information on the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships and the progress of the Welsh Team, please visit: www.worldshearingchamps.com