Click go the shears, girls

Corrina RidgwayThe West Australian

The shearing stands were a women's domain at the 2015 IGA Perth Royal Show as professional female shearers and shed hands came together to raise awareness of, and funds for, the battle against breast cancer.

The Heiniger Female 50 event was the first of its kind, according to organiser and announcer Kevin Gellatly.

Six professional female shearers took up their handpieces to shear 50 sheep in the shortest time possible, and helped raise about $8000 for the cause.

A shed-handling team consisting of two world champions, a professional and two rising young talents, worked effortlessly to clear the boards in a show of girl power.

The event was the brainchild of by Mr Gellatly and Heiniger Australia and New Zealand managing director Gary Lyons.

Mr Gellatly said it was a cause dear to them both.

"My partner's mother has suffered breast cancer - Gary has suffered with cancer himself and his sister-in-law has just been diagnosed with cancer at age 27," he said.

Mr Gellatly said the event would also highlight the importance of women in the shearing industry.

"It is a great credit to the girls shearing and shed handling during the event," he said.

"There are a lot of girls in the industry and this event allows a lot of recognition for them.

"Aside from shearers, probably 85 per cent of shed hands are women in the industry."

Janine Midgley, of Perth, said after 19 years of shearing the chance to take part in the event was "awesome".

"It's really inspiring for us, who have been doing this for a long time, seeing the young girls doing well," she said.

"It meant a lot to us. It's the first time we have had that many girls together - it's just hard to put into words."

She said although they worked in the sheds, they had a "real women's side" and were like a family.

The family definitely showed their skills, laying the last fleece to the boards in less than 16 minutes.

The fastest time was recorded by team captain Belinda Box, of Northampton, who stopped the clock at 14min.22secs.

Among the 50 Merinos that were in for a cut were six sporting pink wool to highlight the special occasion.

Mr Gellatly said he hoped the event would now be run interstate, with the WA women throwing down the gauntlet.

"It looks like the event will be run at the Sydney Royal Show next year … New Zealand has already rang and asked how to go about doing it as well," Mr Gellatly said.

He said the event had been supported by sponsors Heiniger and Top Gun and industry associations.

"The WA Shearing Association, Contractors' Association and Progress Shearing gave us cheques and we have had countless other donations," Mr Gellatly said.

Money was also raised through a silent auction and the sale of pink shearer singlets.

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