Five long-serving wool industry leaders were recognised for their contributions to the industry, being awarded Australian Wool Industry Medals at the annual Wool Week dinner last week.
Federation of Australian Wool Organisations chairman David Michell presented the awards to Elders district wool manager and Sports Shear Australia secretary Steph Brooker-Jones, SA, wool scientist Jim Marler, St Helens Merino breeder David Rowbottom, SA stud breeder and respected judge Tom Ashby, and Landmark’s Trevor James, SA.
Mr Michell said Mr Rowbottom was nominated as being a leader in the ultrafine wool and sheep industries, and an influential genetic breeder.
Attending the awards with wife Susan, Mr Rowbottom said he was incredibly grateful to be nominated.
Ms Brooker-Jones has been a trailblazer for women as one of South Australia’s first female professional wool classers and more recently was the state’s first district wool manager when she joined the company 14 years ago.
The well-known identity says she has enjoyed her 40 years in the industry, especially the travel around Australia but also the United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand.
“I picked up a shearer along the way (her husband David Brooker), and a quality one at that so I have been lucky that we have been a pretty good team,” Ms Brooker-Jones said.
“The bonus is meeting all the friends in the sheds or the clients, many of which are pretty good mates.”
She served as Sportshear Australia chair from 2013 to 2016 and is the current secretary but has been involved with the SA branch for nearly 25 years.
She has also been an enthusiastic volunteer at young judges competition and schools for many years, encouraging the next generation into the sheep and wool industry.
“It was completely random that I chose the wool industry but I really appreciate the opportunities it has given me,” she said.
Fellow SA recipient, stud breeder Tom Ashby has helped the North Ashrose stud grow from strength to strength since the early 1980s, but his influence breeding Merinos has gone far wider.
After a long-running involvement with the SA Stud Merino Breeders, he served as president of the Australian Stud Merino Breeders Association from 2006 to 2012 and has just completed a four-year term as president of the World Federation of Merino Breeders.
Mr Ashby, who is also a life member of Merino SA, said it has been really rewarding being able to hold industry positions.
“If people don’t stand up for their industry, nothing happens,” he said.
“I have met some many good people and had such a good insight into the whole industry.”
Mr Marler has served in the industry for 49 years, and was recognised for his wool metrology and standards work.
Mr James has been in the industry for more than 50 years, spending half of that at Landmark, SA.