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Shearer breaks world record in Heart Foundation fundraiser

When Simon Goss was growing up on his family’s farm in Mangamahu, he had an amazing team to help him learn how to shear. Now he’s set a new world record for a two-stand eight-hour lamb shear.

Simon Goss stands next to his sheep-shearing partner, Jamie Skiffington. They both hold their certificates in their hands for their world record in sheep shearing. Their record-breaking times are displayed on a board behind them.

As the son of 1985 Golden Shears Intermediate shearing champion Alan Goss and late 2008 Golden Shears Open woolhandling champion Veronica (Ronnie) Goss, Simon learnt from the best. His older sister is former shearer and New Zealand women’s rugby legend Sarah Hirini.

“I actually trained to be a diesel mechanic and finished my apprenticeship,” says Goss, 26. “But I was always working on the farm as a kid, and in the end, I decided I could do shearing full-time. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past four years.”

Simon works 7 days a week for three straight months (weather dependent) shearing during the main shear and often keeps going until every gram of wool is collected.

“The days can be long and hard, but it’s worth it,” he says. “Once you’ve got through that stretch, you get some time off to relax. But I always end up keeping myself busy around the farm.”

Tragedy leads to a fundraising event

In 2021, Simon travelled with his mother, Ronnie, to Taumarunui for a shearing competition where they were both competing.

“I’d just completed one round and was about to move on to the next,” says Simon. “Mum had also done one round of woolhandling, and that’s when I found her in the ute.”

Ronnie had suffered an unexpected heart attack and tragically passed away before Simon could do anything about it.

“She was a very fit woman – hardworking and healthy – and there’s no known history of heart disease in the family,” says Simon, “so it was totally out of the blue.”

Ronnie had been competing for almost 30 years, representing New Zealand against Australia in the Trans-Tasman test and in the World Championships in Ireland in 2014, where she placed second.

“It was pretty hard to take at the time, and it still is,” he says. “I’m getting better at dealing with it, and the fundraiser for the Heart Foundation was a big step in that journey.”

Successful by four lambs

Along with friend and fellow shearer Jamie Skiffington, Simon devised a plan to attempt a two-stand eight-hour lamb shearing record in January while raising funds for the Heart Foundation.

“My wife helped set it all up, and we got the buckets and balloons and had a great crowd of around 300 people in the woolshed,” he recalls.

“Seeing everybody coming and donating to such a great cause was amazing. And in the end, we were successful, so it was a really great day.”

In a stunning feat of endurance and skill, the pair managed to beat the 20-year-old world record of 1406 by just four lambs, shearing 1410 in eight hours.

“It was a big day and a huge effort,” says Simon. “We just scraped in at the very last minute to get the record, and it all kind of flew by in a blur. I’ve watched videos of it, and the place was packed with hardly any room to move in.”

The woolshed in Mangamahu Valley was the perfect setting for the successful attempt. The support and atmosphere created by keen onlookers all helped make what Simon can only describe as “an awesome experience”.

Grateful for the support and opportunity to organise a charity shearing event

Simon is still winding down from the hype of such an incredible feat. He now knows how much work goes into organising an event such as this and how challenging it is to raise money for charity.

“There’s a huge cost associated with these kinds of events in terms of time and money,” he says. “Obviously, there are the sheep, the woolshed, the judges from all over the world. You can’t just do this sort of thing overnight. We’re incredibly grateful for the support of sponsors who helped us with all of that.

“I don’t have any plans at this stage to try any other world record attempts, but I’m definitely keeping the door open to future opportunities,” he says. “Most of all, I’d like to thank the Heart Foundation for being a part of this amazing journey, and I just hope that what we’ve raised can help make a difference and save lives.”

The Heart Foundation, which funds life-saving heart research and supports people living with heart disease, is privileged to be the beneficiary of Simon and Jamie’s fundraiser and is grateful to all those who generously supported them to raise thousands of dollars. To have incredible people like Simon raising awareness for heart health is truly a blessing.

As for Simon, he says he would like to do more, but he hasn’t yet decided what that will be. “I’m definitely not done yet,” he says. “There’s always more that can be done to help others, and I’m just getting started.”

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