Mid North Coast's horse racing industry lost one of its loyal servants this week with the passing of a popular and true ambassador, Bruce ‘Digger’ Edwards.
Bruce was an avid sportsman who, after playing first grade with the Eastern Suburbs Roosters in his early days, gravitated to the sport of horse racing where he enjoyed owning horses and fielding as a bookmaker during his tenure as a publican in Taree.
Given Bruce’s love of racing and his desire to engage with the industry, he joined Taree Race Club in the early 80s and ultimately became a respected president for a period of 10 years, being appointed the club’s delegate for the Mid North Coast Racing Association.
Bruce was afforded Life Membership of the race club in 1995 and during this time he was able to preside over the club from his beloved property located near the 1000m start of Taree Racecourse.
Bruce raced many horses over the years including Fun Road who won 19 races, March Formula and Swiftly Bay, to name a few.
Racing NSW Deputy Chairman of Stewards, Philip Dingwall, said that it was with great sadness he learned of Bruce’s passing.
“I first met Bruce when I was appointed as Chief Steward of MNCRA when I was about 24 years of age and during those formative years he provided invaluable insight and guidance with the role of administration and stewarding; the type of education one can only gain from a person with a great deal of common sense, gleaned from experiencing many years of a life in racing.
“Bruce was always approachable and more than willing to provide his views to best solve the many issues that a young steward would face in a robust industry, and at the end of each race meeting would invariably be waiting for a full report with a warm smile and a consoling cold beverage.
"He was one of those committeemen always present at the races, not only in Taree but of all the tracks in the Association, and he would be accessible either in the betting ring, enclosures or elsewhere to any stakeholder whilst carrying out his role as a committeeman.
"Bruce had the gift of understanding both the regulatory and commercial considerations of the industry, a prerequisite for the role of committeeman and he carried these duties with the utmost integrity.
“There are racing principles that I draw on to this day that are 'Bruce inspired' and he certainly encouraged young people to be professional within the industry. Bruce recognised the need to ensure that racing remained current and embraced the need for succession planning which includes the current chairman of Taree, Greg Coleman, whom he encouraged to join the committee over 25 years ago.
“Greg developed a strong bond and friendship with Bruce and kept in regular contact with him after he returned to Sydney in 2000.”
Bruce is survived by wife Gwen 'The Blonde', sons Greg and Gary, their wives Anne and Annie and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.