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Passion for rural life ... Ramona and Jim Sidey with their daughters Millie, aged 13, left, and Hannah, 14, and their team of dogs at their Strathblane Corriedale Stud on the outskirts of Waikari. PHOTO: FILE

By DAVID HILL

Jim and Ramona Sidey will be hoping for second time lucky as they look forward to presiding over the Hawarden A&P Show on Saturday, March 20.

The Waikari couple have returned for a second year as co-presidents, after the 2020 show was cancelled because of Covid-19.

The Sidey family’s links to the Hawarden A&P Association date back to the show’s origins in 1907, when Mr Sidey’s great-great-grandfather, James Little, was the association’s first show president.

Mr Little is believed to have developed the Corriedale sheep breed while managing Corriedale Station in North Otago in the 1860s.

He later moved north to the Waikari area, laying the foundations for the Strathblane Corriedale Stud, now farmed by Jim and Ramona.

Their sheep have won the supreme champion wool sheep several times over the years at the Canterbury A&P Show.

Today, the Sideys farm on the western outskirts of the North Canterbury township of Waikari with their daughters Hannah and Millie, both high school students at Hurunui College.

Mr Sidey also has two adult children, Tom, an air force officer, and Ella, a primary school teacher.

The family runs 250 stud ewes and farms cattle on their property. They are also breeding and training working dogs.

Two years ago, Mr Sidey sent rams to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, and has judged sheep in the region.

Last year, he was to travel to Brazil and Uruguay for judging, but his plans were thwarted by Covid-19.

The Sideys have farmed the Waikari property for 13 years, while Mr Sidey previously worked at Glen Rock in the Rakaia Gorge, and managed Waitohi Hills, near Hawarden, for about 12 years before coming to Strathblane

He has also spent time in Australia, Britain and Canada.

An enthusiastic dog triallist, Mr Sidey won the South Island drive and yard competition at Blenheim last year with his dog, Ace, and plans to compete at this year’s Hawarden show.

Mrs Sidey says working alongside her husband on the farm “is a dream come true”, having worked as a vet nurse, studied farming and worked on farms in her home country of Germany and during her OE. She likes looking after the young dogs and loves horses, having been involved with thoroughbreds in Germany and England.

The couple are also keen supporters of their daughters’ hobbies.

Hannah, aged 14, is a member of Junior Dog Training and Dogs New Zealand (formerly the New Zealand Kennel Club). She trains her border collie in obedience through the North Canterbury Dog Training Club in Rangiora, agility through the Waimakariri Dog Training Club in Mandeville, and with dad’s help on sheep.

She also attends the annual junior dog training camps in the North and South Island, meeting young people from all over New Zealand and learning from various dog trainers from around the country.

Millie, 13, is a keen horse rider, having had ponies from a young age.

Her latest project is a much-loved black pony, a former barrel racer, who she is training for showjumping with the help of her coach, Sam Wilson.

The couple urge the community to back the show, which they describe as an “awesome community event”.

Vacancies are available on the show committee, including the role of junior vice-president.

The vacancies provide important opportunities for people keen to support their community by helping to ensure the annual show survives into the future.

In doing so, it will continue to provide a day of entertainment for the community, exhibitors and visitors.