The highest ever amount in the National Fleece Competition’s 18-year history has been donated to charity, thanks to a booming wool market.
On Wednesday, 251 fleeces from woolgrowers around the country who had entered the competition were auctioned at the Melbourne woolstores, earning $18,500 for the Lyme Disease Association of Australia (LDAA).
This amount is over $2000 more than last year’s record price, and brings the running total of funds donated to a variety of charities to $164,662.
The top charity fleece sold for 2230 cents a kilogram, with the average price among all charity lots being 1626c/kg.
Landmark Bendigo wool account manager, Candice Cordy, who is the competition convener, said the sale was supported by a gallery of generous wool buyers.
“The wool buying fraternity is always very generous with charity auctions, and we get really good support from them every year,” Ms Cordy said.
She said raising funds for a charity gives the competition more meaning.
“We ask exhibitors to nominate charities that are close to them, and for this year’s competition, a family that has been involved for many years recommended LDAA as they’ve been affected by the disease,” she said.
“We think it’s a fantastic way to raise awareness and funds for a charity that services the rural community.”
She said this year’s competition went extremely well.
“The buoyant wool market has put wool on the agenda for everyone,” she said.
The funds will go towards “exciting” national research projects to help with the treatment of Lyme disease, a tick-borne infection, according to LDAA board member Anne Ryan.
“We’ve established a scientific advisory committee, and this money will go towards state of the art research and clinical trials,” Ms Ryan said.
She said Lyme disease can often be confused with other diseases that have similar symptoms, so the competition has helped draw attention to the often misunderstood illness.
Australian Sheep and Wool Show chief executive, Margot Falconer, said she was pleased the competition could benefit an important charity.
“I believe every successful business in Australia has an obligation to be philanthropic, and give back to the community, which is why we think it’s important to do so,” Ms Falconer said.
She said the ASWS and fleece competition were more successful than ever.
The competition was facilitated by the Australian Sheep Breeders Association, Australian Wool Testing Authority and Landmark.