Volunteering ‘til the cows come home at the Royal Show

Judy Hebiton has spent most of her life with cattle.

“On my 14th birthday I was sleeping on the veranda of our farm at Clackline. When I woke in the morning a calf was tethered to my bed. That was my birthday present,” she said.

“It started my interest in cattle.”

The calf, named Fawn, lived for about 12 years and had many calves.

In 1956 Judith joined the Junior Farmers and volunteered to help out at the Royal Show.

“We had a show camp every year. We had a tent near gate five and lived in the Junior Farmers hostel in Kimberley Street throughout the show.

“We were given the job of leading sheep and cattle round the arena on judging day and in the grand parade.”

Later Judy exhibited commercial cattle at the Royal Show and from 1979 cattle from their Santa Gertrudis stud and won many championships.

From acting as volunteer steward in the Royal Agricultural Society’s cattle section she became chief steward for a 25 year stint.

In May this year she was honoured in the WA Volunteer Service Awards for 50 years of work at the Show as a cattle steward, cattle inspector and coordinating Junior Farmers.

But she has not limited her activities to cattle.

She also competed in the handicrafts competitions and won prizes for felting and floriculture.

“I won the hanging basket competition one year.”

She also judged at the district display and was still active last year when she gave a demonstration of felting using alpaca fibre.

One year she led a parade through Perth to help advertise the show.

Her role was to lead a cow, Bridgette, from Langley Park to Council House, where she met with showgirl competitors and Sir Ernest Lee-Steere who was then Lord Mayor of Perth.

On another occasion an exhibitor was leading a champion Angus bull at the grand parade when a group of ruffians demanded the bull’s ribbons.

When he refused they threatened to return that night and burn down the cattle shed.

“We kept watch all night. The hooligans did not turn up, but at 3am came a downpour. We spent the rest of the night cleaning out the drains.”

Her activities have not been limited to the Perth Royal Show.

“I’ve judged cattle and handicrafts at country shows from Esperance to Northampton,” she said.

“It is sad that some country shows are no longer held.”

In 1989 Judy moved to the city, but her sons still run the farm at Three Springs and she still does the farm bookkeeping and frequently drives there to spend time with her family at the farm.

In between times she is an enthusiastic gardener, growing plants that she sells at swap meets and helping friends.

“I garden for friends who like gardens but don’t like gardening,” she said.

When Have a Go News spoke to her Judy had just returned from a four day Fantasy of Flowers at Mandurah.

In August Judy attended the Royal Agricultural Society president’s lunch and was recognized for her more than 50 years of volunteering.

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Frank Smith was trained as an agricultural scientist in the UK, moving to WA in 1974 and shortly afterwards began lecturing at WAIT (now Curtin University) in soils and agronomy. In 1979 he joined the Agriculture Protection Board in charge of publications and media relations, studying part time for a degree in Journalism. In 1992 he spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Later he ran a small publication company with his wife Mary-Helen. He then began freelance writing, editing and book indexing. He has written articles for more than 40 magazines in four continents and indexed more than 20 books. In 2007 he started writing for Have a Go News and gradually reduced his writing for other publications. He later took over the subediting, ensuring Have a Go News is consistent in style and highly readable. He and Mary-Helen live in a passive solar home in the Perth Hills with a varying collection of quendas and native birds.