Abbey of the Roses owners Mark Cains and Sonia Hunt with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and husband Greg.
Abbey of the Roses owners Mark Cains and Sonia Hunt with Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and husband Greg. contributed

Premier enjoys visit

QUEENSLAND Premier Anna Bligh has been described as “down-to-earth” and “sincere” after her overnight visit to Warwick.

Abbey of the Roses owners Mark Cains and Sonia Hunt – who hosted Ms Bligh, husband Greg Withers and their entourage – said they were impressed with the Premier's poise and personality.

She bought with her two pilots, a security guard and a media spokesperson.

“We were very excited about having Ms Bligh and her husband stay, but also a bit nervous about meeting them,” Ms Hunt said.

“Her office rang up about a week before and we got confirmation of their stay the day before.”

Security was ramped up slightly before and during the Premier's visit, with a local police officer checking out the Abbey prior to Ms Bligh's arrival. During her visit, police increased their patrols to survey the area.

Ms Hunt said Ms Bligh came across a warm and likeable person.

“During the floods, I felt Anna came across as being a genuine, sincere and practical person who really cared,” she said.

“When we meet her in person she was just the same — she had a genuine warmth and personality that you couldn't help but like.

“Both she and her husband were really nice and down-to-earth people.”

The Premier and her group are said to have loved the Abbey of the Roses, with Mr Withers initially thinking they were only visiting the historic site and excited to discover they were to stay there.

Ms Hunt said Ms Bligh also stumbled across a family connection with the former convent.

“The sisters came to the Abbey and prayed for Anna's mother when she was in labour. It wasn't going well and they thought it might have been a still birth,” she said.

“When Anna was here she rang her mum and her mum told her the story, which gave her more connection to Warwick and to the Abbey.”

Southern Downs Mayor Ron Bellingham and wife Kath gave Ms and Mr Bligh a warm welcome, chauffeuring them to and from the variety concert Saturday evening.

Ms Bligh had only good things to say about the 150th production.

“They were laughing and joking when they got back and said the concert was superb,” she said.

“Anna kept talking about Mario (Gliori) and saying what a great comedian he was. They spoke about the great talent at the event.”

Ms Bligh and Mr Withers began the following day with a stroll to Ms Bligh's old home on Pratten St, before settling down to breakfast at the Abbey (for the record, she ordered poached eggs on toast).

They flew to the Gold Coast later that morning to open the Carrara Stadium.



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