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Accolades mark shearing service

Four men who have lived and breathed shearing were recognised for their many years of service at this year’s Golden Shears event in Masterton.

Former Golden Shears president and shearer Philip Morrison said it was “very humbling” to receive the Life Membership from Shearing Sports NZ – which was presented by the organisation’s chairman, Sir David Fagan – as few people have received the national award.

Morrison grew up on a Wairarapa farm and began shearing in the ’70s, entering in lower grades in the Golden Shears.

Over his career, Morrison spent a “long time” servicing different organisations within the sport, he said, volunteering for a staggering 330 concurrent years with different shearing organisations and serving on various shear sports committees – some of them for more than 50 years.

Morrison started judging the Golden Shears in 1982 and has been a committee member since 2003.

Among the highlights of his 47 years of judging were attending the world champs in Wales, Ireland, France and NZ, he said, as well as being a judge’s examiner for both wool handling and shearing contests.

Morrison said the Shears is a totally different competition to the average one-day competition due to its size and is more upmarket and exciting in its presentation.

He continues to be involved with “lots of things”, including the Shears sponsorship and programme.

“Because of my experience, things come naturally to me,” he said.

Volunteers Doug Laing, Hugh McCarrol, and Graham McNae were also honoured with a 50-year service badge at the Golden Shears awards ceremony.

Masterton-raised journalist Doug Laing – who first worked at the Times-Age as 14-year-old in 1969 and went full-time from 1974 to 1977 – has reported on the Shears for more than 50 years.

“It’s a big honour,” he said of the acknowledgement.

Laing said the shearing industry is “enigmatic, smelly, sweaty” and “hard work – yet everyone in it is passionate”.

“If some scientist grabbed all the chemistry, they might find the ingredients for the ultimate happy pill.”

Laing’s father Les – who also worked at the Times-Age and as a radio journalist and covered every Golden Shears until his death in 1988 – was heavily involved as a volunteer from the start of the Shears.

“Dad suggested using the stadium, and that was more or less the start of the idea,” Laing said.

Hugh McCarroll – who currently serves as secretary of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society – said getting the award was a “wonderful, unexpected surprise” for him and his wife.

He attended the first Golden Shears with a group from Tauranga as a spectator to “see what it was all about” in 1961.

After winning the intermediate title in 1967, McCarroll said it was “probably the catalyst to becoming forever caught up as a ‘sheep shearing convert’.”

McCarroll has attended “ever since” as, respectively, a competitor, judge, and administrator, with great support from his wife and family – and noted that the Shears had been an important part of his family’s life.

“Organisers of weddings and other important family occasions have been warned not to take place the first weekend in March,” he said.

Golden Shears judge Graham McNae said he hasn’t missed the Golden Shears since 1970, and it was an “honour” to receive the award.

McNae started shearing in 1970 and volunteered with the Young Farmers’ Club, and over the years held the position of chairman of the Young Farmers sub-committee and the general committee.

He first entered the Golden Shears in 1973 and shore for 10 years, and in 1989 started judging, which he’s done every year since.

“It’s always a pleasure to go back,” he said.

“Everybody’s a volunteer, – people do it because they love it.”

At the Golden Shears awards ceremony, Pete Nikolaison and Des Williams were also acknowledged for 30 years of service.

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