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Former Devlin woman has royal encounter

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A former Devlin resident made her royal debut last week when she accompanied a champion race horse to meet the Queen in Toronto.

Sherry McLean, now the assistant farm manager at Gardiner Farms near Toronto, escorted 1995 Queen’s Plate winner “Regal Discovery” to the Festival of Ontario last Wednesday night.

The festival was part of Queen Elizabeth’s 12-day Canadian tour commemorating her Golden Jubilee year. The prized stallion was invited to attend because of Her Majesty’s interest in horses.

“Thoroughbred racing is one of her favourite sports,” McLean said yesterday.

Being introduced to the Queen was a moment McLean said she will never forget.

“It was a pretty neat experience,” she recalled. “I was nervous but very excited. I don’t remember seeing anybody else except for the Queen. I was so focused on seeing her.

“She’s very, very attentive to the people she is speaking with,” McLean added. “She’s also regal. I mean she handles herself so well in these situations.

“A woman her age, she is absolutely beautiful. She really has a presence about her.”

McLean’s entire family was excited about the royal encounter.

“The family told her [we] expect a picture of her and the Queen for Christmas,” her mother, Carole McLean, said yesterday from her Devlin home.

Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan.

“We were to bring him out and they were hoping to get pictures with the Queen possibly feeding him, but he was very excitable,” Sherry McLean explained.

“There were bagpipes and drums and town criers, and hundreds of people there.”

The Queen was able to come within 10 feet of the horse but being aware of horses herself, she knew not to come closer with the animal being so scared.

“She started to speak about how very difficult for the horse this situation was, and then he lost it again and I had to focus on the horse,” McLean said.

“He was good under the circumstances,” she added. “Any horse would have been sensitive to all of that noise.”

She admitted her worst fear was that the horse would bite the Queen as she fed him, or kick someone during the festival.

“I just kept thinking don’t hurt anyone, don’t hurt anyone,” she said.

All in all, McLean said she was pleased with the experience. And while the horse may have been a bit difficult to handle, at least she didn’t have to worry about other things.

“It was pretty exciting, but I think I got away with not having to know how to curtsey or shake hands,” she laughed. “I just had to hold the horse.”

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