For some, Monty Python’s Lumberjack Song is an iconic piece of British humor. But – for the British ‘lumberJills’ champion – the sport has moved so far away from the hunky stereotype mocked by the sketch group.
This weekend, the group will prepare for the second Timbersports Women’s Championships, where the nation’s best will battle it out with axes and chainsaws.
Seen as the epitome of a male profession, the sport has pushed to become more inclusive – as women are welcomed into country clubs.
A far cry from the outraged Mounties walking off as a husky Michael Palin sings about his exploits in “high heels, suspenders and a bra” – the modern day event even sees male and female lumberjacks go head-to-head in combined events.
One – the Jack and Jill – sees a man and a woman on either side of a large two-handed saw.
Sarah Cox, who first tried the sport two years ago before being brought to her local club by a friend from work
The very first show was held last year and Sarah – who runs the recycling department for a soft drinks company – went home with the bronze medal
The modern event even sees male and female lumberjacks go head-to-head in combined events. Pictured: Sarah Cox doing the Jack and Jill
Sarah Cox, who first tried the sport two years ago, has already mastered skydiving, aerobatics and boxing – before being brought to her local club by a friend from work.
The 42-year-old, from Llandinan, Wales, said: “It’s quite a masculine sport – people look at axes and chain mail and that’s what you typically associate with men rather than ‘Women’s.”
“But I think a lot of people forget a lot of the roots of, say, during the war, when the loggers were doing all these sorts of jobs too.
“In a way it’s a nod to people like that – I’d like to think that women like that aren’t forgotten and that spirit is kept alive through that.
“It’s quite a strange environment because everyone is very friendly. It’s not like a lot of sports where people are completely and utterly competitive, and your competitor is your enemy.
“It’s more like people trying to help each other, to give each other advice. It is a very friendly and inviting sport.
“You start getting to know people from all over the world – it’s like having a global family. Everyone has this in common.
“You have people from all walks of life doing it, but it’s usually people who like the outdoors and a bit of adventure.”
Daredevil Sarah has already mastered skydiving, aerobatics and boxing
Dee Hardwick at the British Women’s Championship in 2022 with compatriot Jill Cat Eccles
Cat Eccles, 42, and Justine Narusa, 33, competed in the Underhand Chop at the British Women’s Championships last year
The idea of a lumberjack is not new – during World War II the Women’s Timber Corps used this nickname in an attempt to alleviate the shortage of imported timber after the German invasion of Norway.
Hosted by chainsaw company Stihl, the Royal Three Counties Show Championship on Sunday June 18 will see modern lumberJills compete in three disciplines – the Stock Saw, Single Buck and Underhand Chop.
The very first show was held last year and Sarah – who runs the recycling department for a soft drink company – walked away with the bronze medal.
She continued: “To be part of the first one – it was amazing.”
“I went into this not really caring where I came from, but just to make history for the first British Women’s Championship was incredible.”
‘And to see this year how everyone I’ve competed with has progressed, how we’ve all grown, how we’ve grown together – and to see the new women coming in and trying too.
“It’s absolutely great to welcome more people.”
The extreme series – which has its roots in a bet between two lumberjacks in Tasmania, Australia – celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2020 and has branches around the world.
Dee Hardwick, a theater support worker at Kidderminster Hospital, laughed as she described the typical lumberjack wearing plaid shirts and jeans.
Dee Hardwick, a theater support worker at Kidderminster Hospital, decided to take up the sport after buying and selling chainsaws while on leave due to lockdown
A keen rugby player who has also played hockey and ridden motorbikes, the 45-year-old from Reddich says views on women’s sport have changed dramatically since the 2012 Olympics.
She and her friends dress up in style as a joke for her upcoming bachelorette party.
A keen rugby player who has also played hockey and raced on a motorbike, the 45-year-old from Reddich says views on women’s sport have changed dramatically since the 2012 Olympics – and in particular the groundbreaking campaigns by teams cycling and team GB hockey.
So – when she started buying and selling chainsaws while on lockdown leave – she decided to give it a shot.
She said: “The boys are so friendly. There is no ego. They want women to compete – they know that’s the future of the sport. They are very supportive.
“We want to prove to men that we can do it.
“My partner is amazing. She’s a police officer and she thinks it’s absolutely crazy, but comes and supports and actually started doing it herself.
“There are fantastic women doing this fantastic work. And they are treated as equals. That’s the great thing about sports.
‘I’ve made some cutest best friends out of it.’