PIONEERING South Australian wool classer, broker and district wool “spunk” Steph Brooker-Jones was among five recipients of the Australian Wool Industry Medal awarded last week.
At the annual Wool Week dinner last Thursday night, Federation of Australian Wool Organisations chairman David Michell made the awards to Ms Brooker-Jones, wool metrologist Jim Marler, retired wool broker and judge Trevor James, and Merino sheep breeders, Thomas Ashby and David Rowbottom.
Mr Michell told industry representatives at the Australian Wool Industries Secretariat dinner that Steph was cited for her broking, shearing and wool handler services record.
“She is active and enthusiastic, and has been involved in this for over 40 years.”
She has been a wool classer through South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland from 1979-1994, a wool buyer from 1999-2004 and a district wool manager for Elders since 2004.
“She was the first female district wool manager in South Australia,” Mr Michell said, and also one of the first female professional wool classers in the state. When she strode to the podium Steph corrected Mr Michell and said her bio should have read “district wool spunk”. Steph was also one of the first female classers to work in the wool stores at a technical level and “under the watchful eye of Trevor James”, she said.
Steph was also chair of Sports Shear Australia from 2013-2016 and an executive member, and was also credited for her ongoing voluntary work in training and encouraging young people into the wool industry. She was recognised for her involvement in shearing and wool handling competitions and in mentoring young women.
SA stud Merino leader recognised
Mr Michell said Tom Ashby, the co-principal of the North Ashrose Merino and Poll Merino studs, received his citation for Merino sheep breeding and related services.
He was the inaugural president of the South Australian Young Merino Breeders from 1986-88, president of the South Australian Merino Sheep Breeders Association from 2005-06, a committee member from 1994-2006 and was made a life member in 2013. He was president of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders from 2006-12 and president of the World Federation of Merino Breeders from 2014-18.
The respected sheep judge is a supporter, contributor and successful exhibitor at Australian regional and national shows, and in 2002, implemented the breeding leadership program. Mr Ashby was also a WoolPoll panel member in 2009 and 2012.
Mixing ultrafine wool with conservation
Mr Michell said Victorian Merino breeder David Rowbottom was cited for his work in ultrafine wool breeding and conservation. The leader in the ultrafine wool and sheep industry is an influential breeder of ultrafine genetics, he said.
“He made a commitment to stop mulesing on his property nearly four decades ago in 1979 by thinking a bit ahead of the curve.
“He is a conservationist and has made a large contribution to the Basalt to Bay Landcare Group by setting aside on his property, land to protect the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot.”
The Rowbottom’s Rowensville flock has been very successful in the international Zegna Vellus Aureum fleece awards, winning in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2016, Rowensville’s winning fleece was a record-setting 9.9 micron. The flock is holder of several Australian seasonal records for wool prices at auction.
Mr Rowbottom thanked his nominator and the judges and said there was a long way to go in development and improvement of superfine wool.
“It’s a great industry to be in, so thank you all very much.”
Wool measurement leader awarded
Distinguished wool scientist Jim Marler’s nomination for the award for his wool metrology and standards work was supported by Australian and international referees.
Mr Marler served in the industry for 49 years and his expertise in metrology and standards is recognised globally. The former CSIRO (1968-86) and AWTA national technical manager (1986-2008) was the architect of IWTO-0 method for developing test methods. He was actively involved in the Interwool labs (1993-2016) and was president from 2005-16. Mr Marler was the IWTO raw wool group deputy chair and chair from 1990-98 and is a significant author and co-author of reports and submissions to the IWTO. He is recognised for his ability to translate highly technical documents into layman’s language.
Long-serving broker and wool judge honoured
Mr Michell said Trevor James served for more than 50 years in the wool industry and the last 25 years with Landmark.
Mr James was Landmark’s South Australian wool manager from 1985-2010, the company’s Victorian wool manager from 2007-08 and interim national wool manager in 2008. He was also the South Australian director on the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia from 1992-98 and in 2007.
Mr Michell said Mr James contributed as a judge at regional, metropolitan and national shows for more than 40 years and mentored many of the judges in the rings today.
“He was recognised as an acute judge of wool and a very talented auctioneer, and he had a ‘never say no’ service ethic with his clients – and that is why Trevor James received the medal today.”
Mr Michell said the medal recipients 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.
“This year’s recipients have come from a number of wool industry sectors including farming, broking, metrology and science and includes various services such as education, mentoring and breeding sectors,” he said.
“They are leaders within their immediate sectors, however, their influence is much greater impacting regional communities and internationally.”