George honoured for 40 years in ring
VETERAN horseman George Parker, 74, has been honoured with life membership of the North Coast National.
The award came during the Champion of Champions event for which he is chief steward.
"I knew it was in the wind but it still caught me by surprise," Mr Parker said.
Mr Parker is chief ring steward at Casino, Lismore and Alstonville shows.
"I started off in the pony club in Woodburn more than 40 years ago and I've been involved in shows ever since," he said.
Show ringmaster Ron Weir, 76, said he has known Mr Parker for 50 years and the committee had no hesitation in honouring him.
"You can't buy life membership. It comes from the gratitude of the show committee. We only bestow it upon people who earn it and George has been a very hard worker for many years," he said.
Mr Parker's granddaughter, Emma Roxan of Woodburn, won the Champion Intermediate Hack competition. She said she was proud of her grandfather.
"He's a hard worker and has always gone above and beyond to help me."
Mr Parker admitted he had considered retiring from his role as chief steward.
"It's just a thing that's in your blood. I think about giving it away but I always come back again because there just aren't enough young ones to take the job on."
Mr Parker warned that shows will lose their equestrian events if there are not more volunteers.
"I'd like to see a lot more volunteers at Casino Show and at Lismore," he said.
"There are only a couple of us left on the show committee in Casino. We're getting on in years and we can't do it forever."