Escorting Princess Anne around Sydney Royal Easter Show

Brundee's John Bennett escorts Princess Anne around Sydney Royal Easter Show

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"Not bad for a boy from Brundee".

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HONOUR: Shoalhaven's own John Bennett escorting the Princess Royal, Princess Anne around the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

HONOUR: Shoalhaven's own John Bennett escorting the Princess Royal, Princess Anne around the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Not bad for a boy from Brundee was how John Bennett described his role of escorting the Princess Royal, Princess Anne around the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Mr Bennett, who is the chairman of the Sydney Royal horse committee and vice-president of the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS), was given the honour of escorting the Princess through the Riding for the Disabled Association section at the show, of which she is the Patron.

But it wasn't anything new for the well-known proud Shoalhaven man, who has met the Princess on a number of occasions through his role with the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC).

Mr Bennett is a trustee of the group, while the Princess Royal is the Patron.

"I'll admit I probably wasn't as nervous as some at meeting the Princess Royal," he said.

"I have met her on a number of occasions previously in our roles."

In fact, the person who escorted the Princess in the previous section of the show has to introduce the next host, but when they got to Mr Bennett and the introductions began, the Princess simply said "Yes I know John".

RIDING SHOW: Brundee's John Bennett with the Princess Royal, Princess Anne at the Riding for the Disabled Association display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

RIDING SHOW: Brundee's John Bennett with the Princess Royal, Princess Anne at the Riding for the Disabled Association display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

"That was rather nice and nice she remembered me," Mr Bennett said.

"My role was to introduce her to members of the Riding for the Disabled Association, an organisation in which she is also Patron.

"The association normally stages competitions at the show but unfortunately due to COVID the normal program was not run.

"But we had three members of the association there, one from Goulburn, another from Sydney and one from the North Coast, to put on a display and they were delighted to meet her.

"The excitement for the young riders was wonderful and the Princess had a real rapport with everyone.

"She asked lots of questions and was interested in what they had to say.

"The kids thought it was great."

Mr Bennett said as part of their briefings on the Princess' visit they were told she wouldn't be shaking hands and "not to expect it".

"When she got here she put out her hand and shook with everyone, which was wonderful," he said.

"One of the lovely things she did do with the kids, it was the only time she took off one of her gloves, and as the kids were sitting on their ponies, she gave one a pat.

"She was just so engaging and interested in everything which isn't surprising as she is considered an agriculturist herself and of course, an accomplished horsewoman."

Mr Bennett also met Princess Anne's husband, Sir Timothy Laurence, who accompanied her on her tour of the show.

"I'd never met him before and he was a lovely chap," he said.

"We had a great chat and I sat on his table at the official dinner hosting the Princess, at which she said she was delighted to see how Sydney had continued to use and had adapted its former Olympic precinct.

"She said she had visited the Sydney Show at the old location at Moore Park and the last time she had been here was for the Olympics.

INTEREST: John Bennett chats with the Princess Royal, Princess Anne at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

INTEREST: John Bennett chats with the Princess Royal, Princess Anne at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

"She said it was wonderful to see the area continuing to be used, which so often doesn't happen and that Sydney is actually a rare example of what can be done to continue the use of such areas and facilities."

Mr Bennett, who has previously been ringmaster at the show for six years, said it was great to see so much success from South Coast entrants across a wide variety of sections at this year's show.

"It was great to see how well South Coast entrants, and in particular those from the Shoalhaven, did this year," he said.

"Of course, that started with Imogen Clarke, our Nowra Showgirl, who was named runner-up of The Land Sydney Royal AgShows NSW Young Woman event.

"It was great to see Faye Suffolk's success with her porcelain art, and the success of so many locals in the cattle and horse sections."

FLASHBACK: A photo of John Bennett's father, Olympic equestrian Mervyn, accepting a prize at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in the late 1960s, which was used as a promotion of the show's 200th anniversary.

FLASHBACK: A photo of John Bennett's father, Olympic equestrian Mervyn, accepting a prize at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in the late 1960s, which was used as a promotion of the show's 200th anniversary.

Another special part of the show for Mr Bennett was when he came across a poster of his father Mervyn, an Olympic equestrian, being presented with a prize at the show.

"It was a poster promoting the show's trophy gallery," he said.

"I walked past it and stopped and went 'wait on that's dad'.

"I contacted the heritage people, who organise all the posters and especially the promotion of the show, this being its 200th staging, and they just said they didn't know who it was but they liked the photo as he 'looked like a happy winner'.

"I sent it to dad and yes it was him - taken in the late 1960s with the first horse he rode at Sydney Royal, Regal John and he had just won part of the three-day event.

"That was incredible and fantastic to see."

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The story Escorting Princess Anne around Sydney Royal Easter Show first appeared on South Coast Register.

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