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To Europe and back for top Wairarapa shearer

Jills Angus Burney robing up at the Prince’s Gate Water Spring. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Wairarapa shearing identity Jills Angus Burney has returned from a teaching and speaking tour of the agricultural community in Wales, and the world shearing championships in France.

In March, the producer of She Shears film, Georgina Conder, received an email from Wales farm development agency, Farm Connect, asking if the women shearers the film focuses on were interested in a trip to Wales.

Burney leapt at the opportunity and at the start of June found herself and fellow She Shears stars Hazel Wood and Emily Welch giving shearing demonstrations at three Welsh agricultural colleges.

The trio demonstrated shearing techniques to the students and afterwards watched them shear, and provided one-on-one tips.

“Honestly, it was unreal,” Burney said. “They just lined up in numbers. We had a couple of 14-year-old boys who were dead keen on learning to shear. Farming is so ingrained in the Welsh culture.”

After touring the colleges, Burney and her co-stars hopped on buses in the town of Aberystwyth to take part in the Women in Agriculture Conference.

The buses toured four Welsh farms to look at how farmers had diversified their businesses.

These included Prince’s Gate Water Spring, a farm that had its own aquifer and sold bottled water around the United Kingdom.

Later, at a hotel in the town, Burney and her fellow stars gave a presentation to the conference.

“We spoke for about an hour and a half to around 200 women from right across the agriculture spectrum.

“We talked about ourselves, how we succeeded in a male-dominated industry and gave advice to the women there.”

Burney said she spoke about life not being a straight path.

“I talked about having to leave the shearing industry after being injured, retraining and then re-entering the industry through judging and coaching up-and-coming shearers.

“The big theme from the movie was resilience and that was something we tried to get across to them.”

While in the United Kingdom, Burney also judged at three shearing competitions and came second in the women’s shearing final at the Royal Cornwall Agricultural Show in Cornwall, England.

After the conference, Burney spent nine days in Le Dorat, France, where the world shearing champs were being held.

Burney competed in the all-nations women’s event, which attracted 41 entries, the largest number of women shearers in a single event.

“I had two good sheep and one not so good one and ended up 13th [missing the semifinals]. But I hadn’t done the preparation. I should’ve if I’d wanted to get further.

“It was amazing just being there. They got 62,000 people through the gate throughout the week and had a crowd of 1500 at the final speed shear.”

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