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Almost $130k raised for charity at ‘Shear4U’ event

Almost $130,000 raised for charity during a marathon 24-hour shearing event "can only do good" for rural communities, many of whom are struggling even more after Cyclone Gabrielle.


‘Shear 4 U’ took place over the weekend of January 21 and 22 at Pukemiro Station, near Dannevirke, with the primary aim of raising awareness and generating support for rural health and wellbeing.


Farmers Isaac Scott, Adam Roe, Vaughan Wrenn and Dan Billing formed the core of the event, with a fifth stand made up of supporters and novelty shearers.

From top left, Vaughan Wrenn, Adam Roe, Isaac Scott and Dan Billing.

From top left, Vaughan Wrenn, Adam Roe, Isaac Scott and Dan Billing.


None of the shearers were professionals - just ordinary farmers – but what they achieved was truly extraordinary.


In terms of sheep shorn, the goal was 6000 over the 24 hours – but shearers managed to get through a whopping 6654.


That’s one sheep being caught, dragged and shorn every 66 seconds - plus the time spent eating, drinking and maintaining handpieces to keep them running well.


As the event went on, around 500 people came along to watch during the stint, with peak attendance of 300 people filling the entire shed.


Dan Billing, who farms near Dannevirke as well as working as a senior agri relationship manager for ANZ, said the event was both “humbling, and epic all at the same time.


“Humbling in the sense that I had no idea of the impact that it had on the community, and how this translated to support that we received,” he said.


“And epic in that this was a once in a lifetime experience, something that I’ll remember forever.”


Dan said there were several really challenging moments during the 24-hours that he had to work through.


“In the second and third runs, I cut myself reasonably bad.

"I had to get my head into a space where I wasn’t thinking about the pain, or how it was limiting me in what I was doing."

Dan Billing - Shear4U Shearer



“Then from 5am to 7am on the Sunday, my body must have been trying to shut down, and I had to deal with severe stomach cramps.


“The other difficult part was completing the last 2 hours. Prior to then, there was always something to keep working for, but at this point I knew it was the end, which meant I had to focus on smaller parts of the last 2 hours to keep focus.


“Instead of two hours, it became 30 minutes shearing 25 sheep, then down to 5 min blocks, then sheep-by-sheep, right through to the last 5 minutes – then it was easy to see it thorough, with the support team around me.”


The money raised - totaling $128,594.36 - will be divided between three charities – Hear4U, the Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Rural Support Trust.


Dan said knowing the funds raised during the event will be desperately needed following Cyclone Gabrielle "makes us appreciate the event, and the support we got even more.


"The funds raised for RST and Hear4U will be used in a way that can only do good - we are humbled that what we did will have some tangible benefits to those affected," he said.


"Now more than ever, we as a community, as friends, as family are here to help and support those that need it - having the help of those that care will help to get you through these tough times."


Hear4U Director Krissy Mackintosh said the event was unbelievable.


“We watched in admiration as four men advocated for our charity, with such determination, concentration, and hard mahi,” she said.


“The shearing shed was a perfect place to break the stigma around mental health, and our team spent the entire day connecting with rural families affected by mental health challenges, or suicide.


“Rural communities have had an extremely tough year due to political, environmental, and systematic changes – and the efforts of Team Shear4U, demonstrated ‘rising above’ hard times, through unity, and good old fashion community love.”


Breast Cancer Foundation Chief Executive Ah-Leen Rayner said it was an honour to be a recipient from this fundraiser.


“We’re blown away by Dan, Vaughn, Adam and Isaac’s heroic efforts, which were all the more special given their personal connections to the causes they’ve supported,” she said.


“Their donation will help us to provide practical support to breast cancer patients and fund scientific research to find better treatments and save lives.


“With a third of breast cancers diagnosed outside of New Zealand’s main centres, we know accessing health services in rural communities comes with added challenges - so anything that shines a spotlight on the importance of early detection makes a real difference.”


Rural Support Trust Area Coordinator for Tararua Jane Tylee also attended the event, and praised the work that went into making it happen behind the scenes.


“It really was a phenomenal effort, and we feel really privileged to be a recipient,” she said.


“We really depend on funding and sponsorship like this to be able to keep doing what we do – providing support during tough times to our rural communities.”


Rural Support Trust ambassador Matt Chisholm has also been busy carrying out his Time Out Tour over the past few months, with funding support from ANZ, in an effort to get rural people talking about their mental health.


In the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, ANZ is donating $3 million to affected communities, including $1 million specifically for agriculture and horticulture groups.


*Special thanks to Vicki Priday for allowing us to use her images for this article.


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