Australian wool industry honours excellence with medals

Sheep Central, August 26, 2019

Australian Wool Industry Medal Recipient Michael Blake, left, with FAWO chairman David Michell.

AUSTRALIAN Wool Industry Medal recipient Michael Blake last week spoke for all those who excelled daily in the sector, sometimes without due recognition.

Mr Blake said the medal recipients are supposed to be “excellent achievers”, but instead see themselves as normal with a responsibility to “do what we do.”

“This award elevates us in the sense that we can now see that other people have recognised what we do, what we consider to be what we should be doing in our industries.”

The wool grower, quality assurance and farm safety pioneer said he had been involved in trying to instigate change across many facets of agriculture.

“And one of the lessons I’ve learned and you can take it away tonight, is that if you are trying to get change you have to give people you are trying to influence some shareholder opportunity for that purpose of change,” he said.

Mr Blake was among five recipients of the medal announced by Federation of Australian Wool Organisations chairman David Michell at the annual Wool Week dinner in Melbourne last Thursday.

The other recipients were former exporter Don Belgre from New South Wales, retired Victorian wool grower Geoff Fisken, Western Australian Shearing Industry Association president Darren Spencer and former Australian Wool Innovation director Brian van Rooyen.

Mr Michell said Mr Blake, as a wool grower, has made significant advances in genetic improvement and farm operations including safety, biosecurity, environmental management of land and quality assurance schemes.

“He shares his knowledge and passion with the wool industry locally and internationally.

“He has been involved with many industry groups including Ross McKenzie Fellowship, Victorian Farmers Federation and the Department of Agriculture,” Mr Michell said.

He said Mr Blake’s achievements include the 2011 Biosecurity farmer of the Year Award, the 2007 Farm Safety and the Victorian Workcover 2000 Award.

Big turnout for Wool Week dinner in Melbourne

Mr Michell made the presentations before an audience of growers, brokers, exporters and service industry representatives.

He said Mr Belgre, although unable to attend the dinner, was a wool buyer and exporter for almost 55 years and involved with many wool industry organisations as director and chairman.

“He has made a significant influence over the fine and superfine wool industry and dedicated most of his life to the promotion and development of the superfine wool amongst the best international processors around the world.”

Fisken award for industry services

FAWO chairman David Michell with medal recipient David Fisken.

Mr Michell said Mr Fisken received his award for his industry services work.

“He was born and raised in the wool industry and actively participated in many wool industry organisations.

“He has served in various positions with WoolProducers Australia, AWEX, AWTA and AWET,” he said.

“Now retired, he dedicated most of his life to the advancement, education and governance in the wool industry.”

van Rooyen made local and international contributions

Mr Michell said Mr van Rooyen has made significant contributions to the Australian wool industry since the early 1990’s.

“He was chairman and director of Australian Country Spinners and Australian Wool Innovation, a director of AWTA, AWPC and Woolstock Australia and a trustee of AWET.

FAWO chairman David Michaell, left, with medal recipient Brian van Rooyen.

“His contributions are many, both locally and internationally.”

Spencer honoured for shearing sector efforts

Mr Michell said Mr Spencer has been involved in the shearing industry since 1982 as a shearer, contractor, grower, wool classer, wool broker, transporter and industry leader and advocate.

“In his 36 years in the industry Darren has employed thousands, trained hundreds more, been a leader for change and improvement in occupational health and safety and freely given his experience and time to assist others and improve the shearing industry that he is so passionate about for all involved.

“In addition to his role as president of WASIA Darren also represents the WA shearing industry on many industry working groups and organisations.”

FAWO chairman David Michell, left, with medal recipient Darren Spencer.

Mr Michell congratulated the recipients on being nominated and their achievements and thanked them for their contribution to the Australian wool industry.

“These men have made and continue to make a significant contribution to Australia’s wool industry.

“The diversity and range of their backgrounds and experience identifies that their contribution goes beyond the wool industry.”

He said the med recipients are leaders within their immediate sectors; however, their influence is much greater impacting regional communities and internationally.

“They are worthy of the recognition of their peers and I congratulate them all on receiving the Australian Wool Industry Medal in recognition of their service and contribution.”

“It is a privilege to be able to present these awards and remind ourselves that a community of support and recognition is a healthy way to ensure that the Australian wool industry creates a positive image that is attractive to the next generation.”

The Federation of Australian Wool Organisation is the peak body for the Australian wool industry and last week voted t5o change its name to Wool Industries Australia. Members include the Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors, Australian Wool Exchange, AWH Pty Ltd, Australian Wool Innovation, Australian Wool Testing Authority, The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia and WoolProducers Australia.


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  1. kereto katie Featherstone, September 4, 2019

    Congrats Darren

  2. Arthur Slarke, August 31, 2019

    Darren Spencer is most deserving of his Australian Wool Industry Medal.

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