Q&A: Caroline Tapster, chief executive of Hertfordshire County Council
Caroline Tapster, chief executive of Hertfordshire County Council and president of this year's Hertfordshire County Show, takes time out to tell Louise McEvoy what visitors to this year's show can look forward to
When did you become chief executive of Hertfordshire County Council and what does your role involve?I joined the council in 1995 as assistant director for social services. I became director in 2000 and chief executive in 2003. My role is extremely varied and challenging and no two days are the same. I see my role primarily as providing good leadership and making sure we provide services for the benefit of Hertfordshire residents and visitors.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?I can't pin it down to one particular event. I'm fortunate to be in a job I love. I take pleasure in seeing people with learning disabilities move into a brand new state-of-the-art housing scheme, or the opening of a new school - it's about seeing the results of a lot of hard work and making a real difference to people's lives.
Who is your hero and why?There are many people I admire, both from the past and present. People like Elizabeth Fry, who transformed the lives of women and children, and the late Jane Tomlinson, who inspired so many when embarking on a series of marathons and athletic challenges to raise money for people with a terminal illness. I admire people who go out of their way to make an impact and change other people's lives for the better.
Why did you decide to become president of this year's Hertfordshire County Show and what does this role involve?I've been involved with the show for a number of years and was delighted and honoured to be asked to be president. My input includes participating in the show, hosting the president's lunch for 100 invited guests, presenting winning trophies, and visiting as many Hertfordshire exhibitors as possible over a busy weekend.
What appeals to you most about the show?It's a real celebration of Hertfordshire. We've so much to be proud of in this county and it gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn more about farming and the countryside. It's not all mud and tractors though. There's a wonderful mix of people, animals, shops, businesses, organisations and activities. If the sun shines it's a great day out and, if not, pack your wellies and enjoy the fun!
What can visitors to the show look forward to this year?There'll be lots to see - attractions such as prize-winning cattle and sheep, international show jumping horses, horticulture marquee, award-winning food hall, farmers' market, and spectacular Grand Ring attractions.
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What will there be for children?The great news is that all children's entertainment is free. Activities this year include an all human circus, climbing wall, Punch and Judy, face painting, and the opportunity to see cattle, horses, sheep and lots more.
Where do you live and what do you like most about the town/village?I live in Bishop's Stortford and get the best of many worlds - a wide variety of good local shops, lively pubs and restaurants, as well as being a stone's throw away from fabulous countryside but with good travel connections to London.
What is your favourite walk in Hertfordshire and why?One of my New Year resolutions is to walk more. I've bought myself some new walking boots and a good map and have discovered the Hertfordshire Way runs past my house. I can walk from home over rolling countryside and end up in villages like Much Hadham and Little Hadham without seeing a single car.
Where are the best views to be had in Hertfordshire?As a member of the Great Hadham Golf Club I enjoy playing golf, and for me one of the best views of Hertfordshire is approaching the 18th tee and seeing my ball inches away from the hole!It's showtime!Enjoy all the best entertainment on offer at the 123rd Hertfordshire County ShowBILLED as 'The best value for money community event in the county', the Hertfordshire County Show takes place on Saturday May 23 and Sunday May 24 at The Showground in Redbourn, near St Albans.Organisers have been hard at work making sure there is plenty for everyone at this year's show but still ensuring a family day out that won't break the bank.To encourage more people to enjoy a stress-free value for money day out, a 25% discount is being offered off advance admission tickets - which includes a family ticket for �25.50, �8.50 off the gate price.Visitors are also being urged to make the best of the day by bringing along their own picnic and there will be plenty of places to enjoy your well earned lunch while enjoying the show.The 123rd event looks set to be another winner and organisers feel sure they have got the perfect mixture of entertainment. As well as the show rings for the many agricultural parades and the marquees showcasing traditional country crafts and sumptuous foods, there is something for all the family.Among the animals will be alpacas, birds of prey, farm animals, horses, donkeys and rabbits as well as sheep dog displays and sheep show, while also on offer is free childrens' entertainment, international show jumping, the all-human circus, vintage machinery, tug of war, music, and display teams, including the Devils Horsemen and Lings Motorcycle team.