Our Don's chats with Queen Elizabeth

Don Ferguson, Warren Ferguson, Josh Ferguson and Toia Ferguson represent the four generations of Fergusons who were at ...
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

Don Ferguson, Warren Ferguson, Josh Ferguson and Toia Ferguson represent the four generations of Fergusons who were at the Waikato A&P Show where Don received a letter from the Queen.

Don Ferguson began his Monday with a phone call to the Queen.

The ex-dairy farmer was presented with a letter from Her Majesty at the Waikato A&P Show at Claudelands Arena on Saturday.

The letter recognised his contribution to the dairy and cattle industry.

It was a real honour to hear what she had written, Ferguson said.

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"I was just dumbfounded. I said to her this morning (Monday) I couldn't believe what they were talking about.

"She (The Queen) said the way you've worked, you deserve every bit of it."

His relationship with the Queen started in 1975, when Ferguson and his wife went to the English Royal Show.

Ferguson met the Queen's herdsman and showed him pictures of his jersey herd back home in Otorohanga.

"Next thing we knew we were selling bulls and heifers to the Queen."

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In 1977, Ferguson met Queen Elizabeth II for the first time, in the lounge of the Te Rapa Racecourse.

In 1990 Queen Elizabeth returned to New Zealand for the Commonwealth Games and requested to visit the Ferguson stud, Ferdon Genetics, in Otorohanga.

She met the whole family and had afternoon tea, which consisted of pikelets, blueberry tarts, asparagus rolls and Bell tea.

Two years later Ferguson travelled to England with his wife and was the Queen's herdsman for four months.

During some of that time the couple lived in a flat at Windsor Castle.

"It was an honour but quite stressful when you're up at four in the morning till 10 at night."

He said he saw a lot of the family.

"The Queen would come down riding practically every Monday morning and the Duke would come past in his land rover and have a chat.

"I was a nervous wreck the first time I met the royal family but I was soon put at ease."

She calls me Don on the phone, Ferguson said.

"I was talking to her three months ago about the cattle, family, the farm, weather or racehorses, generally how any family person talks.

"When you've been there 11 times and lived there for four months you get to know the place."

Ferguson has been taking animals to the Waikato Show continuously for the past 70 years.

His son Warren now runs the farm in Otorohanga. He has around 380 cows, which are mostly jersey.

The family took 17 animals to the show over the weekend and "scrapped the rest of the pool."

They took out the two, three, four, five and six-year-old All Breed divisions.

 - Stuff

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