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Home > Media> 1999

9 August 1999

Shearing Magazine

Wool handling gets its first graduate

When Bernardine Shelford turned up at a WoolPro’s wool handling course in Ranfurly last July, getting her hands on a Senior Wool Handling Certificate was the one thing on her mind.

A year later, not only has Bernardine achieved her senior certificate, she is also the first person to have accomplished a National Certificate in Wool Handling—level three with a fine wool endorsement.

Bernardine says she’s rapt with her latest achievement.

“This is something to show for all the years of work in the sheds,” she says.

“It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Bernardine started out in wool handling back in 1982, when a friend encouraged her to work for Rotorua’s local contractor, Wally Richards. She promised her the pay was good, and better than the job she had—playing the piano for diners at first class restaurants! So Bernardine gave wool handling a go.

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In 1983 she worked her first main shear for Bill Jones’ Hastings gang, then moved to work the pre-lamb season with George Potae in the South Island.

That’s when she met her husband Patrick, who began to teach her all she now knows about wool handling. And who better to do the job—he had just won the title of 1984 Wool Handler of the Year!

Bernardine was Potae’s leading wool handler for several years, and she now works for John Stringer in Ranfurly.

Bernardine and Patrick share their passion for wool, and have been successful as a team in events including the 1996 NZ Wool Pressing champs (Lawrence), the Merino Shearing and Wool Handling event in Alexandra (1996-97), and the 1998 NZ Wool Handlers of the Year competition in Balclutha. Bernardine also holds several titles under her own name. Maybe those piano-playing fingers gave her an edge over her rivals!

Bernardine says the completion of her national certificate has come at just the right time – she hopes to go to Polytech next year to start a three-year course in teaching Maori to primary school children.

WoolPro offers courses in wool handling from a junior level – for those with little or no experience in the wool business – through to intermediate, senior and advanced courses.

By being a Registered Training Provider, WoolPro can help people achieve unit standards, which are steps towards national qualifications recognised by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.



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