Northland boy Lewis Nichols has taken out the 2019 Fieldays Rural Catch top honours with Hamilton girl Charlotte Leach winning the hearts of the public, judges and sponsors to be crowned People’s Choice.

Lewis is a heavy machinery operator for agricultural contracting company Bradfields based in Otorohanga and 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

The highlight for Lewis 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.”

Humble about his win, Lewis said he went into it with a positive attitude and wanted to do his best, “It wasn’t really about winning for me, I’m taking away more than just the prizes. 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,” said Lewis.

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 a 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.”

When asked why he entered Rural Catch he says he puts all his energy and effort into work and has nothing left to be able to craft a killer tinder profile, hence the reason he entered Rural Catch.

People’s choice award winner Charlotte Leach is a research technician for Dairy NZ who impressed the public, judges and sponsors – all of whom she thanked for making the experience such a great one.

“The highlight for me 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,” said Charlotte.

You’ll normally find Charlotte partaking in an outdoor adventure, searching for an adrenaline rush or relaxing spending time with family.

Originally from an alpaca farm, she spent her first 17 years living and breathing all things fibre and alpaca spit with her passion now sitting in the dairy industry where she’s driven to learn and absorb everything about cows.

This year’s Fieldays Rural Catch was made possible thanks Fieldays Rural Catch Partner Farmlands Co-operative and sponsors Suzuki, Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup who all contributed to the prize pool for the winners.

Lewis takes home the coveted Golden Gumboot trophy, a brand new King Quad worth $17,995 thanks to Suzuki, a $2000 Swanndri voucher, and STIHL and Skellerup vouchers. Leach walks away with Swanndri, STIHL and Skellerup vouchers and all competitors receive a $500 STIHL voucher, so no one walks away empty handed.