From woolhandling judge to competitor

Mataura woolhandler Lucy Elers throws a fleece during the junior woolhandling final, which she...
Mataura woolhandler Lucy Elers throws a fleece during the junior woolhandling final, which she won, at the Northern Southland Community Shears yesterday. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
A young woolhandling judge has swapped critiquing the efforts of others for competing herself.

After three years of judging woolhandling events Lucy Elers, of Mataura, won the junior woolhandling section at the Northern Southland Community Shears yesterday.

The event was held in the Selbie family woolshed at Five Rivers, near Lumsden.

Miss Elers said she started going to woolhandling competitions with her mother Tina and sister Maiden.

She started watching the woolhandling judges at the shows.

"I wasn’t competing back then.

"I would get bored and just want to help out, so I jumped in the back with the judges."

Eventually, she did enough judging to qualify as a judge.

This season she decided to compete herself despite never planning to.

"Everyone else was doing it."

Now she had a taste for competing and would continue to "prove to myself what I can do".

She has taken part in fewer than 10 shows but won the New Zealand Merino Shears junior woolhandling title in Alexandra last year.

Knowing what judges were looking for was a great help to her when she was competing, she said.

Miss Elers is the third generation of her family to be involved in the shearing industry in the South after her late grandfather Bill and grandmother Gloria started a shearing contracting business more than 40 years ago in the town.

"I was always in the shed as a little girl."

She has been working as a woolhandler for about six years since leaving Menzies College.

Initially, a shearing industry career had not been on her radar.

"I just fell into it."

Forty-nine competitors took part in the woolhandling competition and 61 in the shearing.

Shears committee president Jamie Findlay said the competition went well.

Woolhandling entries were up on last year and shearing entries were on a par with other years.

By Sandy Eggleston

 

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