She’s spent decades behind the scenes doing odd jobs to ensure the Albion Park Show goes off without a hitch and now Diane McParland has been recognised by the Royal Agricultural Society (RAS) of New South Wales, receiving a special award for her ongoing contributions.
Diane grew up in Sydney, far away from the agricultural lifestyle she now loves, but everything changed when she moved to Jamberoo after getting married in 1975 and was introduced to the local show.
“I had been to [the] Sydney Show every year and looked at all the exhibits and cattle but I had never been involved until I got down here,” Diane said.
“It just became part of the culture and it was one way that, being a city girl, I got to meet other like-minded farmers and learn about the industry.”
She became involved in 1978 to support her husband Shaun, who served as president of the Albion Park Show Society from 1990 to 1994 and again from 2018 to 2020.
“I think it just came from that family connection where you’re supporting one another in what they do,” she said.
“I believe if you can support your partner it just brings a better relationship and shared community involvement.”
Over the years Diane found herself helping out wherever she was needed, whether it was as a cattle steward or in the pavilion, being an adviser for rural youth, training debutantes for the ball, catering, or coordinating the Young Woman of the Year and Tiny Tots competitions.
She even judges competitions at other shows in the region.
“One thing sort of led to another and people would say, ‘We need somebody to do this or that’.
“I was going to be involved in some type of way so you may as well make my time useful and productive.”
And now that family connection that drew her to the show in the first place is even stronger, with both her sons Glenn and Ryan serving on the committee and her son Troy also providing support during events.
“I think they’ve just seen both of us involved and they’ve tagged along and it’s just progressed to going on the committee and helping out,” she said.
“One runs the animal nursery and one does the ambassadors program; they’re just extra things that they’ve found that could help the society be successful.”
Although the McParlands are helping secure the future of the show, Diane is also responsible for helping preserve its past.
“When I received my life membership in 2012, I realised that there was no recording of who all our life members were or who all our presidents, treasurers and secretaries were, so just sitting at home doing nothing I started a list and searched through old minutes and got everything in order.
“Then it started building up with all the history, things like who the champions were and how long people were on the committee.”
During that process she had urged the society to nominate some of its members for RAS awards, but she had no idea her name would come up this year and only found out she had received an award at the show itself.
“I was talking and the wind was blowing – it wasn’t until he actually said my name that I knew what was going on and then I got a little nudge.”
The medal is presented to members who have shown significant dedication and contribution to their local area and show to help communicate RAS’ vision to educate the community on the value of sustainable agriculture and improve the quality of agricultural produce and animal breeds through competitions.
And the community has been in full support of Diane’s deserving recognition.
“I’ve had so many congratulations come through, and even people from different shows,” she said.
And her commitment is showing no signs of wavering anytime soon, with Diane committed to supporting the show and her family’s efforts as long as she’s needed.
“I don’t think they’ll let me retire now!
“I’ll keep going as long as the show keeps going and will try to do my piece to help out.
“And I’ll always be there to support my husband and the boys doing it and whatever I can do to help,” she said.