Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge
Retirement Living

Village resident, Sandra Stokell, has a quirky hobby you might not expect! She’s a sawing enthusiast and has the awards to show for the years of dedication she’s put towards her trade.

Village resident, Sandra Stokell, has a quirky hobby you might not expect! She’s a sawing enthusiast and has the awards to show for the years of dedication she’s put towards her trade.

Sandra grew up in Tasmania and was working in an abalone cannery in Dover when a female colleague asked her a question which changed her life. “She asked me if I’d ever sawed and if I’d like to give it a try,” Sandra said. “I’d never done it, but I thought why not and started with training on the Jack and Jill saw. From that moment on, I was hooked!”

Sandra’s first competition was Jack and Jill (male and female) at the Royal Hobart Show, where they placed third. “It was one of those things, as soon as I started, I seemed to have a real affinity with it and I just really enjoyed myself while I was doing it,” she said. “Not far from where I worked, a friend had a dummy log set up in his shed, so I’d go and visit in my lunch break and cut off a couple of wheels, just to practice and do single-handed sawing as well, so I could learn good techniques.”

She soon learnt that sawing was very popular in Tasmania. “There was a whole range of people doing it,” said Sandra. “It was really good fun and a great way to meet people. I never looked back from the first saw; I was passionate about it from that moment on.”

Sawing has taken Sandra all over the world, she was asked by Jason Wynyard, the New Zealand Captain of the world relay team, to be the Australian member in the team for the single-handed sawing leg and went to Florida as part of the team for the ESPN Great Outdoors Games. “It’s great to see how they do it in other parts of the world,” Sandra said. “In New Zealand, it’s a real family affair, kids and adults get involved and in Florida, it was such an eye opener, it’s a real lifestyle over there. They have a number of different events in the USA and Canada, including the hot saws.”

Sandra’s team won a silver medal in Florida, and she said she was incredibly proud of the achievement. “Winning silver at Florida was really fantastic, we had a great time, and it was a real honour to be part of the games,” she said. “I’ve also competed in Melbourne, Adelaide, Queensland, and the Easter Show in Sydney. I was a member of the Australian Women’s Team for several years competing against teams from New Zealand, USA and Canada.”

Sandra moved to Perth in 2003, where sawing didn’t really exist for women. “I rang the Perth Royal Show and asked if I could compete,” said Sandra. “They said that I had to compete against men, which I did, and I beat some of them too.”

There is certainly a trick to sawing and it doesn’t come as easy for some. “Being good at sawing is really about having good equipment and techniques,” said Sandra. “I learnt the tricks of the trade in Tassie and picked it up easily. I was very lucky to partner with an older man, Darryl Brown, in both Jack and Jill and Double Handed. He was probably 30 years older than me and had a bi-lateral hip replacement, but he taught me everything he knew, and we won a lot of competitions together including several championships and a number of handicap events off the back mark.”

Sandra still loves the sport and always encourages anyone who can to give it a go. “It’s great for your fitness and you’ll get a lot out of it if you enjoy it like I did,” said Sandra. There were many favourite moments along her journey, including some here in WA, and even some overseas. “I think one of my favourite wins was racing a chainsaw and beating it at an exhibition at the Moondyne Festival in Toodyay,” said Sandra. “There have been so many special moments along the way. It was a great achievement winning the Jill and Jill Tasmanian state title for seven consecutive years – my sawing partner Carolyn and I were the oldest pair by far. I really enjoyed the Florida trip too. I’ve met lots of brilliant people along the way.”

Sandra has been living at SwanCare for the past year and has a daughter living just 10 minutes down the road. “Everyone at the village is lovely, very friendly and everything’s close by, it’s a great location and the staff are so helpful,” she said. “Because I have family close by, I’m often with them, but there’s plenty to see and do here if you want to take part in the activities of village life.”

After wrist surgery recently Sandra doesn’t think she’ll compete again at a competitive level, but still loves the idea of being involved with the sawing fraternity in Perth. “I don’t think I could go to a competition and not want to take part in it,” she laughed. “It’s a way of life for sure, and it’s definitely a sport that you do for the love of it. There’s not much in the way of prize money, and some of the entries can be expensive, but if you love it, it really is worth having a go.”

What an amazing experience to share with us all. Thanks for chatting with us, Sandra!

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