Remembering my first Royal Welsh Show is pretty hard – because I was barely old enough to walk! As a family, we’ve always been regulars.
For us, and for many farming families, it’s an annual holiday. Merthyr Tydfil isn’t what you’d call ‘rural Wales’, but many ‘townies’ enjoy a day out to the Royal Welsh, and like me, they’re from the Valleys.
And the great thing is, in a world where everything’s changing, the warmth, the welcome and the Welshness of the Royal Welsh stays exactly the same.
For me the Royal Welsh is special in many ways. And in fact, it’s where my television dream began. I’d stand by the main ring on a Wednesday afternoon in late July, with one eye on the Welsh cob stallions and the other on the TV crews rushing past.
This, I decided, is what I wanted to do one day.
I’m now getting ready for my third Royal Welsh as a reporter here at ITV Wales. And, as you can imagine, I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s like home. And the funny thing is, even if I don’t see the farmer who lives up the road from me all year round, I know I’ll see him by the cattle ring watching the Welsh Blacks on a Monday morning in Builth Wells every summer. To me, it’s like a community. We’ve all seen the Grand Parade many times before, but somehow it never gets boring. Year after year, it never disappoints.
But few people realise the hard work and dedication that goes into preparing these animals for the Show. To breeders, winning a championship in the Royal Welsh is like finding the Holy Grail. There’s just nothing else like it.
And over the past few weeks, I’ve been getting an insight into how passionate these people are. From young Welsh cob breeder Jonathan Batt, who lives in Abergavenny, to Royal Welsh veteran Carwyn Lewis, a cattle breeder from Llanybydder, this is the pinnacle of the year. We’ve been lucky to film them on their journey to Builth Wells – that one show they all want to win.
Like most people, I have such fond memories of the Royal Welsh. From the spectacular cavalcade that lit up the show’s centenary year in 2004, to the show spirit that shone through the rain and the mud in 2007, to the wonderful moment Welsh cob stallion Ebbw Victor won the George Prince of Wales Cup in 1998 after more than a decade of trying, and to the first time I put on my microphone at Llanelwedd to report on the greatest show in the world. And who knows, my best memory may yet be to come.
Join me and the rest of the team for the Royal Welsh Show 2011, Monday to Thursday on WALES TONIGHT, 6PM, ITV1 WALES and catch up on our special highlights programme, THE SHOW, ITV1 WALES, Thursday 10:35pm (21 July).