Close brush with royalty

THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will put the “royal” into Royal Easter Show tomorrow – and Tamworth’s Margaret Finucane will have a front-row seat for all the action.

Mrs Finucane is one of 80 Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) members whose name was drawn out in a ballot for reserved seating in one of two areas to be visited by the royal couple during tomorrow’s visit.

She said she was excited to have a special seat set aside for the royal walk-through and would have her camera on-hand when the Duke and Duchess passed by. 

It’s the icing on the cake for the talented cook, who last week was awarded the Long-serving Exhibitor Award in recognition of more than 25 years of entries in the show’s cookery section.

And on Monday night she was among a privileged group of RAS members who enjoyed cocktails with NSW Governor Marie Bashir at Government House.

Her reputation in the kitchen was further enhanced, too, with a second placing in the gluten-free cake category, adding to the 21 ribbons she’s claimed in 29 years of exhibiting in Sydney, including a first place for her coconut ice in her show debut back in 1986. This year she entered eight cakes in eight different categories, sticking to a gruelling schedule to ensure her baked treats made it to Sydney in time for the entry deadline.

The week before she baked a practice cake in each section – including three or four carrot cakes, from which husband Jim chose the best.

The Thursday before the show opened was the entry deadline. Mrs Finucane finished her baking at 8.30pm on the Tuesday, before jumping in the car on Wednesday bound for Sydney.

On Thursday she was up at 5am to ice two of her creations with icing she’d prepared before leaving home, and by 7am she was at the showgrounds to make the lunchtime cut-off. 

Mrs Finucane, also a champion Tamworth Show exhibitor, said she loved her Easter show experience each year and would continue to contribute to ensure the longevity of the cookery section.

“If people don’t contribute, then that can put that section under a cloud,” she said.

“Participation is the name of the game and if someone wins a prize then that’s just a bonus.”

And her secret to so many prizes over the years? “Know your oven and the five Ps: Prior preparation prevents poor performance,” she said.

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