Lewis Nichols reckons he’s taking away much more than prizes after being named 2019’s Fieldays Rural Catch.
“It wasn’t really about winning for me...The prizes are amazing, but the experiences are lifelong. Every one of us have got on, it’s like a family, none of us want it to end,” says the heavy machinery operator for agricultural contracting company Bradfields based in Otorohanga.
He reckons he came into the competition looking for someone who could listen to a few tractor yarns and has come away with the experience of a lifetime.
Rural catch contestants encountered a myriad of challenges during the week of Fieldays to try to clinch the title.
But for Lewis, the highlight was meeting all the other contestants, saying they made the week such a great experience. “For me it was about getting out there and having some fun. This was a way to put myself out there for future employers, a way to grow and meet new people, a week off work and something else other than tractors.”
When he’s not busy with the tractors, Lewis can be found twisting the throttle on his dirt bike, heading up north to the family farm or enjoying ac spot of fishing on the Kaipara harbour.
Lewis is also a strong advocate for mental health in the rural sector. “Knowing what it feels like to go through the tough times many people face, I know just how important it is that there is support and campaigns to get people to speak up.”
Hamilton girl Charlotte Leach, who won the hearts of the public, judges and sponsors to be crowned People’s Choice, the highlight for her was meeting everyone. “It wouldn’t have been the way it was without them. I just want to say thanks to everyone who came out to support me and to all the awesome people we’ve met along the way,” says the research technician for Dairy NZ, who you’d normally find partaking in an outdoor adventure, searching for an adrenaline rush or relaxing spending time with family.
Originally from an alpaca farm, Charlotte spent her first 17 years living and breathing all things fibre and alpaca spit but her passion now sits in the dairy industry where she’s driven to learn and absorb everything about cows.
Lewis took home the coveted Golden Gumboot trophy, a new King Quad worth $17,995, and Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers.
Charlotte received Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers, and all competitors were gifted a $500 STIHL voucher.