Apsley local Ritchie Foster is the third best blade shearer in Australia, and has travelled to numerous countries showing off his skills.
But he also knows what it’s like to have hard times.
“I just got sick,” he said.
“One week I was fine, the next week I got really sick. You wouldn’t think it looking at a guy like me. I didn’t know what hit me.
“That’s what we’re trying to do with the demonstration, to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention.”
The Blade Shearing Championship for 2019 will be held at the historic Glencoe Woolshed on March 10, and will feature some of the world’s best blade shearers raising money for Beyondblue.
The decision to raise money for Beyondblue is because of its relevancy to the Australian farming community.
“You’ve got to go and try and sort it out, because a lot don’t,” Ritchie said.
“It’s a delicate thing. I’m still working on it. I’ve lost family and friends. It’s especially tough up north.
“We’re working to reduce the stigma, to have people reach out if something’s not right.”
As well as many Australians making an appearance, there will be shearers from the United Kingdom, Germany, and New Zealand. It’s expected that there will be 80 shearers, with a quarter of these shearers being women.
The Glencoe Woolshed is one of the most historic sites for blade shearing, explains Ritchie. Established in the Colonial period (circa 1860), the Glencoe Woolshed was never mechanised.
The event, held on the long weekend, is expected to attract a crowd of 5000 people, with all day live music, food, beverages, and a marquee.
The marquee will be screening the shearing from the shed. The shed will also have 36 audience stands for people who want to see the shearing live.
There will also be access for the disabled, and plenty of car parking. The event runs from 7.30am to 5.30pm.
Tickets are $15, and there is currently an early bird special where you can get tickets for $10 – to book your place you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or get a ticket at the gate (limit 2000 at the gate).
The event organisers are currently looking for some crossbred short wool sheep to be shorn on the day, as they are expected to shear 1,000. If you have any sheep that match that description, please ring Ritchie Foster on 0478 394 513.
For more details about the event you can follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/197823901020451/?active_tab=discussion