By Teresa Sherson

October 9, 2020, looked to be finishing like any other day. Dean was down on the airstrip with our seed rep Vanessa, who had called in on her way home to check the crops. The boys, Nick (13) and Chris (11) were at home, most likely on their Xbox or watching telly.

The day was cooling, and the shadows were getting longer as I saddled up my horse. I glanced toward home as I rode past. A warm, golden glow radiated from the windows. I turned my attention to mustering the lambs as we still needed to dirty-clean them tonight.

Squinting as I looked up to the skyline, I shielded my eyes from the sharp glare of the sun, trying to pick out any lambs under trees and commit them to memory so I could flush them out later. I whistled my dogs and reached down to unlatch the gate when my cellphone rang. I paused before retrieving it from the pouch on my belt; I didn’t recognise this number.

The voice on the other end asked if I had a car and if I could bring Nick to Waikato Hospital tonight – a two-hour drive on a good day. I was told to pack a bag for the weekend. We were transferred to Starship Children’s Hospital the next day and five weeks later we came home for the weekend.

Nothing prepares you to be told “your child has cancer”. We had Leukemia.  This was the second time our family had been touched by this illness. Our daughter Billie-Jean’s son, Daniel, finished his treatment almost five years ago and is happily living in Rotorua.

The town, friends and family rallied around us and we are truly humbled and forever grateful to these people. The seed rep Vanessa, and her partner Rod, who manage a neighbouring station, mustered our lambs that night and put them on the truck, then proceeded to feed our dogs. Family ran our farm for the next few months.

Things have moved on from that day which seems like a lifetime ago. The strength and compassion and, most importantly, the understanding we received from other families in Starship Hospital was amazing. These courageous parents truly understand this monster called cancer.

The doctors and nurses that wage war upon this beast, who dares try to take our most precious of things, do it with love and caring and endless smiles. There are doctors who do magic tricks and nurses who work tirelessly, then stay to decorate the halls for Christmas when they should be at home with their own families. These people are angels in disguise; they dwell in a life between lives at Ward 27, Starship Hospital.

Even though it is the last place any of us wants to be, Starship Hospital is a safe place. We said goodbye to our old room “lucky 13” when we left because we knew we would never be back, but we remember, and our journey is not over.

We still have 12 months of maintenance to go, but things are better. Nick is back driving the tractor, being cheeky and hanging out on the farm.  We welcome this normal with open arms. But we know there are new families entering the scary world of Ward 27, staring with unseeing eyes, desperately trying to take it all in, while wishing it all away.

There is an air of anticipation now as this year’s auction will be different; this year will be special. This year we want to make a difference to a small community of families. This is your moment and you can help them.

All of us at Black Ridge Angus, along with Nick’s grandparents, Brian and Sharon, and his Uncle Robin and Aunty Tracy Sherson, proprietors of Shian Angus, are passionate about giving something back to Starship Hospital. So we are auctioning a bull each in the upcoming sales, set to kick off on 2 June 2022 with Shian Angus at 11am then Black Ridge Angus at 2pm, with all proceeds going to the Pediatric Oncology Ward at Starship.

We all thought it would be a nice opportunity for our buyer to be involved in such a perfectly Kiwi way of giving. It provides not only the pleasure of purchasing an excellent-quality bull, but also supporting such a great cause. Our buyers can be confident they are helping to make not just the journey of the tiny heroes of Ward 27 better, but also that of their families during such uncertain times.

Both studs have selected bulls they are confident will fit into any breeding programme and improve any herd they step into. Years of breeding knowledge, topped with the purchasing of high-quality sires, have gone into the production of these spectacular beasts.

The bulls are fertile, well-framed, attractive cattle with good head and jaw, standing on sound feet with excellent temperaments. To top off what might seem to be the perfect animal that looks like any other magnificent bull found elsewhere, under that shiny black coat he will have a good constitution that enables him to thrive in long cold winters and hot dry summers.

A Star will adorn his rump so buyers can effortlessly pick him out from the 30-40 other impressive bulls which will be available on the day from each stud.

Black Ridge Angus and Shian Angus Studs are always happy to showcase their bulls and answer any questions before or on sale day.

Charity bull auction sale date and times: June 2, 2022, Shian Angus 11am and Black Ridge Angus 2pm.