Neil Sidwell, of Waiwera, who joined a shearing gang after leaving school in 1958, is the closest to a Northland representative among the finalists for the 2019 Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards to be presented in Palmerston North next week.
He is a finalist for the Levno Contribution to Rural Sport Award along with Blenheim arborist David James and Pukekohe fencer Nick Liefting.
The awards presentation will be held during a dinner at the Awapuni Function Centre on March 8, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games in Palmerston North where award nominees and winners will be competing.
Sidwell, 73, who was raised at Waiwera, was a dairy farmer at Ruawai for more than 30 years before returning to Waiwera where he has a 16ha lifestyle block and operates a mobile shearing plant with a big list of clients.
He is a former manager of the New Zealand shearing team, a Northland examiner for Shearing Sports New Zealand and the shearing organiser for several agricultural shows north of Auckland.
Sidwell is a stalwart of the ANZ Northland Shearing Competition veteran section whose many successes include a win at the Northern Wairoa A&P Show at Arapohue on February 9, third placing at the North Kaipara A&P Show at Paparoa a week earlier and wins at the Kaikohe and Warkworth shows in January.
Other finalists for 2019 Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards are:
Norwood NZ Rural Sportsman of the Year: Napier fencerTony Bouskill, Dunedin gumboot thrower Kieran Fowler and Tauranga tree climber James Kilpatrick.
Skellerup NZ Rural Sportswoman of the Year: Eltham tree climber Nicky Ward-Allen, Alexandra wool handler Pagan Karauria and Wairoa sheep dog triallist Bex Baynes.
Fonterra NZ Rural Youth of the Year: Taupo equestrian Briar Burnett-Grant, Whanganui cowboy action shooter Bradley McDowell and Canterbury harness racer Sheree Tomlinson.
Toyota Lifetime Legacy: Ashburton harness racer Ricky May, Whangamata shearer Hugh McCarroll and Dannevirke equestrian Maurice Beatson.
Finalists for the Allflex Sir Brian Lochore Award for an Outstanding Mainstream NZ Sportsperson from a Rural Background will be announced at the Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards dinner on March 8.
The judging panel is chaired by former All Black captain and World Cup winning coach Sir Brian Lochore, who is also a founding board member of the NZ Rural Games Trust.
Other judges are the president of Shearing Sports New Zealand Sir David Fagan, Olympic rowing medallist Nathan Twaddle, fencing legend Paul van Beers, MP for Taranaki-King Country Barbara Kuriger, founder and trustee of the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games Steve Hollander, and agricultural journalists Craig Wiggins and Tony Leggett.