Stephanie DeWitt chats with Bob Ellis
By Stephanie DeWitt
If you weren't here at the South of England Show this weekend, where would you be and what would you be doing?
I would probably be at home taking my grandchildren somewhere. Martha is 5 and learning to ride; Harry is 9 and a football fan like me. One of my proudest moments was when Harry was picked to be the mascot for Wolverhampton Wanderers, wearing the Wolves strip.
If you hadn't become a course builder, what would you have done for a living?
I have the appropriate licence, so I would have loved to have been the coach driver for Wolves Football Club!
What has been the highlight of your course-building career?
What could be better than being asked to build for the London 2012 Olympics? I have fond memories and still get sentimental thinking about it. Just being involved was the most amazing thing.
If you had to pick one, of all the places in the world where you are invited to build, do you have a favourite?
There are so many, I can't pick just one. But if I had to choose, my favourites are Spruce Meadows in Canada, La Silla in Mexico and, of course, Hickstead on home turf.
What do you do in your spare time?
Cal, my wife, and I enjoy visiting National Trust houses together. I like taking Harry to football and spending time with my family.
Where is your ideal holiday destination?
We're very lucky because Cal works for a travel agency so we've holidayed in some amazing places. We've been to Hawaii, all over the USA and Canada and we're off to India in October. I would like to visit Australia; Cal wants to see New Zealand but I've built there for a World Cup Qualifier. Let's agree on Oceania!
What is your favourite food?
I think my favourite is roast lamb. I like duck, too, and steak….!
Is there anything you would still like to achieve?
I haven't ever built for a World Cup Final, but perhaps I don't want to now. I've had such a fantastic career and been to so many showgrounds and competitions in the world - European Championships, Junior Europeans, the Olympics….Well, you can't beat that!
Will you still be course building in another five years' time?
I'm not getting any younger so I'm beginning to cut down on the number of shows I go to. I'll be going back to Dubai next year but after that I anticipate only building at perhaps ten to twelve shows annually. And, yes, that will include Hickstead!
It's a beautiful, sunny day and you are sitting in the centre of the International Arena at Hickstead. How do you feel?
Proud! It's the best seat in the house and there's nowhere better I would like to be!
Olympic Course Builder Bob Ellis, South of England Show, Ardingly