Australian Wool Testing Authority sampling operations manager Tim Steere, Landmark account manager Candice Cordy, Australian Sheep Breeders Association (ASBA) volunteer Margaret Garland, and CEO Margot Falconer, converged on the Melbourne woolstores on Wednesday, to officially launch the competition.
They met with Catherine Stace, an executive board member of this year’s chosen charity, the Lyme Disease Association of Australia.
The donation of hundreds of fleeces from competition entrants last year, meant $16,210 was raised for The Otis Foundation, bringing the accumulated donation total to $146,123 over 17 years.
Those involved are hoping this year’s competition can raise a similar total for the Lyme Disease Association of Australia, an association which raises awareness for an often misunderstood disease.
Ms Stace said lyme-like disease, which is what the disease is referred to as in Australia, affects the body’s central nervous system and can spread to tissues, organs and blood.
The infection is most often caused by the bite of a tick, which transmits bacteria into the body.
“Ticks can be passed on from livestock, which is why rural Australians are particularly susceptible,” Ms Stace said.
“It can cause significant cognitive issues, chronic fatigue, and general sickness, and mimics the symptoms of illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, so can often go misdiagnosed.”
The Lyme Disease Association of Australia is working to raise awareness of the disease, and Ms Stace said the money donated would go a long way.
Landmark’s Candice Cordy said the association was nominated by a former exhibitor in the competition and was deemed a worthy cause to be supported.
Ms Cordy said the fleece competition was a unique opportunity to not only test wool, but benchmark it against others’ wool.
“If you want to improve your fleece, the best way to do it is by testing and benchmarking, and this offers both,” Ms Cordy said.
ASBA CEO Margot Falconer said they are anticipating this year’s Australian Sheep & Wool Show to be a big one.
“It will be a fantastic show because it’s a great time in the agricultural industry,” Ms Falconer said.
Entries for the fleece competition are now open, closing on Friday, June 1 and can be completed online at www.sheepshow.com.