Merrilyn has been an adult member since 1959 and has a long history with the equestrian events at the Perth Royal Show initially as a competitor, then as a volunteer and finally as the Chief Arena Steward.
In 1948 Merrilyn joined RASWA as a junior member and competed in the ring events in 1948 – 1950 riding for John Garvey. She competed in 1951 – 1959 under the name of JP Johnston missing 1956 when travelling in Europe.
From 1960 Merrilyn competed under her own name which she did until 1998, after competing in 37 Royal Shows, missing only 4 Shows in this period for the trip in Europe and the births of her three children. The only other show that Merrilyn has missed was in 2010 when she went to America for the World Equestrian Games.
Merrilyn follows a long line of RASWA members and is following in the footsteps of her Grandfather Edwin Rose who was RASWA President in 1917. In 1972 Merrilyn was invited to join the Horse Committee by the Ringmaster at the time Peter Carter.
After working as a volunteer on the arena for a number of years, Merrilyn was in 1988 appointed Ring Steward and in 2003 the Chief Arena Steward, a position that she held until post the 2018 Show.
Merrilyn had extensive knowledge of RASWA policy and as a country exhibitor for many decades, this provided the Committee with first-hand knowledge of stabling, bunk requirements for country exhibitors. Whilst she managed the rules, she did so in a manner that was non-aggressive and encouraging.
Merrilyn managed the central arena with efficiency and grace, everyone did their job, the competitors were put at ease and most importantly people have some fun.
Merrilyn was able to keep pace and adjust to changes in traditions, rules and conditions whilst maintaining her composure and the prestige of the competition
RASWA awarded Merrilyn the Volunteer of the Year in 2006.
Merrilyn gave dedication, enthusiasm and passion to the voluntary role. Her enthusiasm and passion embodied the Royal Show spirit of staging the best and most prestigious show in town. This enthusiasm rubbed off on the many young volunteers on the arena and also others when she attended other horse events around our state. Being a competitor herself, Merrilyn understood the stress of a Royal Show competition and helped countless competitors calm themselves to give them every opportunity to show their best, while not favouring any party or competitor.
Over the years, Merrilyn has nurtured and inspired many arena volunteers by setting an example of the values of the Society.