Winner . . . Skellerup marketing manager Kintilla du Boucher-Ryan (left), Megan Whitehead (centre) and special guest Julia Ratcliffe are all smiles as Ms Whitehead holds her New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year award. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Two Southland women were surprised and honoured to have picked up top awards in the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards.

Shearer Megan Whitehead, of Gore, and Patsy Shirley, of Lumsden, who runs the Northern Southland Community Shears, were named winners of their categories at the annual awards ceremony held on March 10.

Ms Whitehead was awarded the Skellerup New Zealand Rural Sportswoman of the Year award.

‘‘It means a lot to a lot of people and a lot of people are very proud of me,’’ she said.

Mrs Shirley was awarded joint winner of the Levno Outstanding Contribution to New Zealand Rural Sports Award.

‘‘It was a great feeling,’’ she said. ‘‘I never really wanted anything for what I do, I just love doing it.’’

Ms Whitehead said she was overwhelmed by winning the Rural Sportswoman of the Year award.

‘‘I’ve followed my dreams and achieved a lot of them along the way,’’ she said.

Wasting no time after the awards, she was back to work the next Monday.

The award had not changed her plans to head overseas.

‘‘I’m back off to Scotland for the Highlands World Championships.’’

During the weekend she competed in the Women’s Speed Shearing Championship, in which she placed second.

Sacha Bond, of Gore, placed first in the shearing event.

All smiles . . . Awards MCs Ben Boyce, left, and Jono Pryor, second from right, with co-winners, from left, Patsy Shirley, Elizabeth Morton and Rochelle Smith who was accepting the prize on behalf of her mother Eileen Smith. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Mrs Shirley found it odd to be in the limelight because she she never expected an award for her work.

‘‘Standing up in front of those people was a bit nerve-racking.

“I just normally stay in the background. It was a good feeling to get up there though.”

Since 2009, Mrs Shirley had run the Northern Southland Community Shears, in Lumsden.

She said she fell in love with the community and enjoyed the friendships it had brought.

‘‘I’ve met lots of people . . . They keep coming back and I really enjoy it.’’

Mrs Shirley had been the cook for many shearing gangs during this time.

The award had not changed her plans for the future.

‘‘I’ll carry on with the Lumsden show and just do what I normally do,’’ she said.