AGAINST the odds, two Denbighshire shearers wiped out the more favoured New Zealanders to win Wales’ first two titles at the famed Golden Shears International Shearing and Woolhandling Championships in New Zealand for 23 years.
The two wins came in less than an hour when 24-year-old Hefin Rowlands, originally from Ruthin, won the Junior final and 19-year-old Alun Lloyd Jones, of Corwen, won the Intermediate final in Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium, where the Golden Shears have been held every year since they began in 1961.
In previous years, only two Welsh shearers had ever won titles at the Golden Shears, most recently in 1991 when the Junior final was won by Alwyn Manzini, of Bala.
Both Hefin and Alun have been working in New Zealand for shearing contractors.
Hefin had been in several finals in his career but had never won. It was about four years ago that a friend suggested shearing as a possible career and otherwise destined for a farming lifestyle he took a British Wool Board course and never looked back.
He finished shearing his sheep in 8min 53.506seconds and won by 1.745pts.
Coming second place was Tegwyn Bradley, whose mother is from Wales.
Alun had already had significant success, winning the Royal Welsh Show and Corwen Shears Junior titles a few days apart in 2012. Shearing his sheep in 12mins 10.317seconds, he took the lead by 0.595pts. Fellow Welsh shearer, Sion Lewis from Lampeter was placed fifth.
Other Welsh success in New Zealand was seen by Robyn Charlton of Walton, Presetigne who won the Junior Woolhandling title at the Southern competition held in Gore.
Robyn was taught everything she knows about woolhandling from her mother, Anita Jones, who once represented Wales in the world championships in the Golden Shears New Zealand.
Having had many years experience of woolhandling at home, Robyn decided to travel to Australia and New Zealand after finishing university and has been most recently working in Te Kuiti and Winton.
“It is so great to see our Welsh shearers and woolhandlers doing so well in international competitions this year,” says Mr Estyn James, chairman of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society’s shearing committee. “We are very much looking forward to the Royal Welsh Show in July to see our success continue on home ground.”