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HRH THE PRINCESS ROYAL, PRINCESS ANNE

Early in 2022 the Mounted Games Committee, RDA NSW, received a message from the Royal Agriculture Society of NSW that there may be a ‘very special visitor ‘attending the Royal Easter Show in April  and we were invited to put together a short demonstration event to show them. Being the 200th Anniversary of the Show it was a request we couldn’t refuse as the calamitous effects of fire, floods and Covid-19 had hit RDA, in general, extremely hard. 

Expressions of interest were sent out to all Centres and our eventual Team were 2 riders from Tall Timbers (Cody and Erin) and 1 from Goulburn (Kaitlyn), and 5 guests chosen for their roles and importance to RDA : Tracey Lewis (Chairman, RDA NSW Board), Marie Purkiss (member of the Mounted Games Committee and organizer of the previous Mounted Games Teams from Kempsey Centre), Joan Edwards (OAM for services to RDA), Niki Albury (parent of an RDA rider), and Michelle Kelly (daughter of Pearl Batchelor [the founder of RDA in NSW] and Judge at RDA, Mounted Games Events).
 
Without being able to  disclose the identity of our ‘possible visitor’ this was a definite Secret Squirrel event!  Preparation for the Event was seamless and on arrival at the Showground our riders and horses/ponies were sparkling, excited and rearing to go!! By this time the identity of our visitor had been formally revealed as none other than HRH The Princess  Royal, Princess Anne. Needless to say this added another level of excitement altogether!!!!  As we waited for Her Majesty to arrive the horses and riders were put through their paces in some rounds of RDA games and activities and some Bending… in which there was not a small amount of competition!  Big smiles were replaced by even bigger ones when we were requested to move into a Troop line to meet the Princess in person. Dozens of media cameras clicked and whirred testing the horses patience and tolerance to the max. Bailey held it together, Pablo became the newest Tall Timbers to be granted ‘traveller’ status and little Hillswood Robbi Sox from Goulburn was unfazed.
 
Princess Anne was delightful, talking at length to the guests, riders and support crew, sharing support and sympathies for the challenges RDA was facing. Despite being advised we were not allowed to touch her, she extended her gloved hand immediately to each of us, then took off her gloves to give each horse a Royal pat. Princess Anne has, for a long time,  been interested in Riding for the Disabled and the Mounted Games in particular as it was her father HRH Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh who introduced Mounted Games originally. Being exactly a year since her father had died, the day must have been particularly significant for Princess Anne as well as all the people she met and charmed.
 
All too soon her visit came to an end. However, the after-glow continued amongst all those involved and the promotion for RDA(NSW) was apparent in the media follow up on the news and in social media that evening and for at least a few days and weeks after that!!!

All those there on the day have a great memories to hold, whilst hopefully the presence of RDA (NSW) at the Royal Easter Show has helped to restore some of the morale that the last two years has whipped away. Although there will be no Princess at the Show in 2023 there are great hopes that we will be able to restore the Mounted Games and Horse of the Year Event as a regular feature of future Sydney Royal Easter Shows.

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