FOR 17 years Margaret McQuillan's life was hectic leading into a Tuncurry-Forster Jockey Club meeting.
Margaret was the club's voluntary event director.
"I'd have to take all the bookings and I was always answering the phone.'' she said.
"I'd do the decorations for the marquees and anything else that popped up.''
Now the 71-year-old has retired, although she quickly adds she'll still be a regular on track on Tucurry race days.
She was there for the club's first meeting at Tuncurry in 2008. It drew close to a full house in the times when facilities at the complex were sparse. The club made it through that and has thrived since.
Margaret admits she didn't have much option to get involved with the the club.
"My husband, Garry, took over as chairman,'' she explained
"We've always worked together; we're a team. So it started from that and I just got job after job.''
In the early days when the club only had a handful of meetings, it was possible to run the organisation voluntarily.
"But now it's just become too big and we need to pay someone to run the place,'' Margaret said.
Margaret comes from a racing background and remains involved in the Sport of Kings, so admits her role was a labour of love.
Crowd support for the Tuncurry-Forster meetings continues to be strong.
We always try to make our meetings special events. Whether that be Ladies Day, Seafood Day or whatever. That seems to be popular.- Margaret McQuillan
This is in an era when many clubs, whether they be in the metropolitan area or the bush, are struggling to attract patrons.
Margaret believes this is because the club promotes the race days to attract a cross section of the community and not just punters.
"We always try to make our meetings special events. Whether that be Ladies Day, Seafood Day or whatever. That seems to be popular.''
Margaret won't be totally lost to the club.
"I'll always help Garry out until he retires and we have the big Country Championship meeting coming up (February 24), so I'll be around for that,'' she said.
However, there's one job she won't miss.
"Looking after Garry,'' she laughed.
"Especially when he gets on the computer...'what do I do now Marg?' he always asks. I suppose that's not going to change though.''
She's also had to deal with complaints but assures they've been rare.
Dealing with the public was a highlight, she said.
"I'd speak to people on the phone who I didn't know, and when they'd get to the track they'd come and meet me.
"I like to think I had a good rapport with the public.''
The club ran the Thank you Margaret McQuillan Maiden Plate at the meeting on Monday, January 29 and Margaret was trackside with family members.