Fergus Thomson awarded OAM

Belowra farmer, Eurobodalla councillor and former mayor Fergus Thomson received an OAM in the Australia Day Honours.FERGUS Thomson’s life philosophy has changed in the past year.

When asked, the Eurobodalla councillor and former mayor, who is undergoing intensive treatment for a brain tumour, said his thinking was now different.

“My philosophy today is enjoy every day that you get,” he said.

“It probably has been that we’ve always tried to contribute to the community and we’ve always enjoyed it.”

Mr Thomson was recognised for his service to the community and to local government this week in the Australia Day Honours, receiving an Order of Australia Medal (OAM).

A man with an infectious laugh, a friendly disposition, and a clear passion for family, Mr Thomsongrew up on, and still lives atthe family’sBelowra farm, whichhasbeen tied to the Thomsons for four generations.

In his younger daysMr Thomson worked the land full time but was nudged into community involvement by his father, former Eurobodalla Shire president (mayor) Douglas Thomson, who placed great importance on contributing to the local community.

“My father was probably the greatest influence on my life and through all of the things that he did,” Mr Thomson said.

“He said ‘you boys can’t go back to the farm and just bury yourselves, you’ve got to go do something’.”

Mr Thomson joined Moruya Surf Life Saving Club in 1962 and spent every weekend during summer at the beach either volunteering or competing.

“Our mentor was Ron Cheshire – Ron has been the greatest influence on my life apart from my father. He’s just a wonderful man and a mentor to many people,” he said.

“(Surf Life Saving is) a great organisation and I think it is probably understated in the influence it has on people’s lives.”

Among his many achievements in the organisation was serving as the Far South Coast branch state delegate, chairman, president and deputy superintendent. He was former chairman of Country Branches and was manager of the touring competition team to New Zealand.

With his father on council for “as long as I can remember”, Mr Thomson knew well the ins and outs of local government, but had little desire to follow his father’s lead.

“It had been part of our lives I suppose for so long because my father was on the council, and his father was on the council,” Mr Thomson said.

“I think I felt for a long time I didn’t want to go there, I didn’t want to be involved in local government. It wasn’t my scene I suppose.”

He instead became involved in several local environmental pursuits, including founding the Belowra Landcare group. He later played key roles in water catchment management committees and the Rural Lands Protection Board and was even an advisor to the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

It was not until 2004 that Mr Thomson revisited the idea of walking the family’s well-trodden path to council.

“I found that I was working more closely with the people in local government and really liked working with the people in it and it sort of became a bit of a bond and something that I felt I could contribute to,” he said.

Two months after he was elected, Mr Thomson was thrown onto the national stage as one of two NSW representatives to the National Sea Change Taskforce.

It was a role he particularly enjoyed. The group provided guidance to coastal councils on issues such as rapid growth, planning, funding and management of natural disasters, and projected climate change impacts.

Mr Thomson realised that the Eurobodalla was not alone in having 36 per cent of its residents not contributing to the community fulltime, but wanting to use local infrastructure and services. It was being replicated around the country – from Robe to Maroochydoore.

“We did some really good stuff,” Mr Thomson said, of the group.

“We worked with different people in professions and looking at the impact of growth on the community and how to manage it.”

In 2013 Mr Thomson was elected director of lobbying group Local Government NSW. Shortly he after was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour.

“I haven’t missed too many meetings, which has been rather miraculous,” Mr Thomson said.

“It’s been a little but of a battle but they put up with me. I used to go in with a bandage on my head.

“I think I did it more for me than I did for them, I felt I wasn’t going to give in to it. I’ve got this problem but I can beat it.

“I probably can’t, but I’ll give it a good shot.”

Mr Thomson said that at the end of the day his motivation came down to a love for the Eurobodalla.

“I love the community and I think that is the only reason you could ever go into local government,” he said.

“If you didn’t enjoy it and you don’t enjoy working with the people you wouldn’t do it – you couldn’t do it.

“There’s nothing better to walk down the street in Moruya or Batemans Bay or somewhere and (see) all my friends, and people you’ve actually been able to help – that’s the reward.

“They talk about getting an OAM or something, that’s the not the reward – the reward is having been a part of it.”

Being a part of it is something Mr Thomson could never have done without having wife Yvonne by his side.

“There was nothing that I’ve done in my life that I could have done without her,” he said.

“She has been absolutely brilliant and most people wouldn’t know – she taught our kids (by) correspondence, because we were so far out (of town).

“While I was mucking around and doing silly things, she was at home teaching.

“She was still out there fencing and farming… I would probably be in at the surf club having a surf and she’s out here drenching sheep.”

Mr Thomson said he was happiest on the farm with Yvonne and their two boys Brendan and James.

“That’s why you enjoy being on the farm – you enjoy it as a family,” he said.

“That to me is my greatest memory and I treasure being alongside Yvonne doing that, that’s a big wow factor.”

While Mr Thomson is unsure of what the future holds, he is certain of his appreciation of those who supported him over the years.

“I will always say it’s been an absolute privilege to have been able to represent this shire and this community. They’re my friends and they’re the people that they’re wonderful,” he said.

“You couldn’t ask for abetter community to work in and live in and so I’ve just been really privileged.”

He hopes a new chemotherapy drug trial treatment in Melbourne he is undertaking will give him more time.

If not, he says he’s had a great innings.

“I know it sounds final but I don’t know how else you can say it,” he said.

“You’ve got to acknowledge there’s life and there’s death.

“But I don’t intend to get out yet.”

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Widdop welcomes quality time with Marshall

DRAGONS halves Benji Marshall and Gareth Widdop expect their combination to be stronger in 2015. Picture: ADAM McLEANIT’S all anyone wants to talk about but star playmaker Gareth Widdop says the focus on his partnership with Benji Marshall is warranted as they look to steer the Dragons to their first finals appearance in four years.

The pair were forced to build a combination on the run last year when Marshall joined the club midseason. After some early teething problems they managed to steer the Dragons to within one win of an unlikely finals berth leaving fans salivating at the prospect of what they could achieve with full preseason under their belts.

It means they’re constantly fielding questions about their progress but Widdop is just as excited by their potential.

‘‘If you’ve got a strong halves combination it certainly does help the team a lot and having the extra time working with Benji as a halves partnership is going to help us,’’ Widdop said.

‘‘Last year coming in trying to change things halfway through the year was always going to difficult whereas this year [McGregor’s] had the chance to sit down and write out a plan for what structures he wants to run with this year and we’ve had a solid preseason doing that.’’

He went without finals football for the first time in his career but the 2014 season – his first with the Dragons – was by any measure a breakout one for the 25-year-old who led Dally M voting over the first half of the season and established himself as one of the game’s elite playmakers. But the sharpups and downs of the club’s rollercoaster year meant he welcomed an extended break following the Four Nations.

‘‘It’s obviously quite a long season so it’s good to get away and spend some quality time with the family,’’ Widdop said.

‘‘I think that’s important, if you come back too early and you’re not quite ready for it mentally it makes the season a lot harder and a lot longer. It got to the stage where I really enjoyed my break and I just wanted to get back into training.’’

After steering the side himself for much of the preseason Marshall said Widdop has made a seamless return since rejoining the squad three weeks ago.

‘‘He just slotted straight back in like he’d never been gone,’’ Marshall said,

‘‘He was looking pretty fit when he came back and he’s just a world class player. He takes so much pressure off me and makes my job a lot easier. I feel like when he’s out there I can play a lot better.’’

The pair won’t re-unite on the paddock until the Charity Shield with Marshall to skipper the Dragons at the Auckland Nines while Widdop will lead the bulk of squad against the Mackay Cutters on Saturday.

‘‘I’ve only been back three weeks now and Mary thought it would be more beneficial going up to Mackay and directing the boys around,’’ Widdop said.

‘‘We’ve got new structures and new players in that side and I think it’s more beneficial to get solid game minutes under my belt with the new players and the new structures.’’

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The Mikado information night this Thursday

Musical director Wally Pope, The Mikado director Jodie Holwell and vocal coach Leanne McCready.SINGERS and actors keen to be part of Ararat Musical Comedy Society’s 2015 production of The Mikado are invited to an information night this Thursday.

Director of The Mikado will be Jodie Holwell and she will be assisted by musical director Wally Pope and vocal coach Leanne McCready.

Ms Holwell said she is looking forward to bringing the show to life on stage, with roles to suit a variety of actors and singers.

“There are nine major roles in the production and lots of chorus work,” Ms Holwell said.

“The chorus is a large contributor to this show – as Gilbert and Sullivan is written to include large choruses – and it will have lots of songs and stage time.

“It is a great show, full of memorable songs and lots of laughs and I would love everyone to come along to the information night and get involved.”

The Mikado first opened in March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances,.

While written more than 100 years ago, the genius of Gilbert and Sullivan means that its themes are still relevant today and with no copyright restrictions, references to modern day issues, personalities, celebrities and characters can be included to ensure audiences will still be laughing out loud as they did 100 years ago.

The story of The Mikado follows Nanki-Poo, son of the Mikado of Japan, who fled his father’s imperial court to escape marriage with Katisha, an elderly lady. Disguised as a travelling musician, he met and fell in love with Yum-Yum, the young ward of Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor in the town of Titipu.

Yum-Yum, however, was already betrothed to her guardian, and Nanki-Poo leaves the town.

Still masquerading as a musician he later returns to Titipu after hearing that Ko-Ko was condemned to death for flirting, but learns that although Ko-Ko was indeed to have been beheaded, he was reprieved at the last moment and made Lord High Executioner instead. As the criminals must be executed in order, and Ko-Ko was next to be executed, no one else can be executed until Ko-Ko cuts off his own head!

Ko-Ko, meanwhile, has received a letter from the Mikado, who is concerned that there have been no recent executions in Titipu and threatens severe repercussions if one does not take place within a month, including reducing the town to the rank of a village.

Ko-Ko comes across Nanki-Poo, who is preparing to terminate his existence rather than face life without Yum-Yum, and the two men strike a bargain: Ko-Ko agrees to let Nanki-Poo marry Yum-Yum now, and, in return, Nanki-Poo agrees to let Ko-Ko behead him at the end of the month and marry his widow.

However, the wedding plans are disrupted upon Ko-Ko’s discovery that, under the Mikado’s law, when a married man is beheaded, his wife must be buried alive. Yum-Yum’s enthusiasm for the marriage is suddenly diminished and a solution must be found!

The information night for The Mikado will be held at Ararat 800 Primary School’s performing arts room (enter via Moore Street at rear of school) at 7.30pm this Thursday, January 29. Anyone who would like to be part of the cast or back stage crew is welcome to attend.

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Dog attack leads to neighbourhood fallout

DEVASTATED: Margaret and Samuel Morgan are pleading for the owner of the dog responsible for mauling their Jack Russell, Tui, to come forward.A devastated couple are pleading for the owner of the dog responsible for mauling their family pet to come forward.

Samuel Morgan was washing the dishes, like any normal evening, when he heard his wife, Margaret, screaming.

When Mr Morgan made it to the front yard, his 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier, named Tui, was being mauled by a staffy cross pit bull terrier.

Mr Morgan hasn’t played snooker for years but he attempted to use an old cue to beat the dog away, without any impact.

The dog’s owner also tried to get his dog under control and when his dog eventually lost interest, he fled the scene.

“I’ve never seen something so horrific,” Mrs Morgan said.

Mrs Morgan was letting Tui “do her business” in her front yard when the attack occurred.

The dog’s owner was visiting the house next door when the dog, without a collar or any restraint, jumped out of his car window to attack Tui.

Tui was taken immediately to Mustafa’s Veterinary Clinic where she was put down due to the seriousness of her injuries.

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Cahill seals his legend

TIMCahill enhancedhis alreadylegendary status by scoring two goals in the Socceroos’ 2-0 win over China in the Asian Cup quarter-final last week.

Many commentators now consider himthe greatest footballer the country has ever produced. In this week’s At The Bar,Michael “Speedy” Stratton and The Area News sports editor Andrew Pivagive their thoughts on where the 35-year-old ranks.

UNSTOPPABLE: Many football commentators are calling Tim Cahill the greatest Socceroo of all-time. Picture: Getty Images.

Andrew: Canyou remember the last time you did a bicycle kick, Speedy?

Speedy: Can’t say that I’ve ever done one. But I have kicked a bicycle.

Andrew:That doesn’t count. Anyway, I’m still pumped about Tim Cahill’s brace for Australia in the Asian Cup quarter-final against China. His first goal was a bicycle kick and his second was off his head.

Speedy: As they usually are with TimCahill.

Andrew: True, and now there’s talk he should be regarded as the greatest Soccerooof all-time. Whatdo you reckon, Speedy? Does he deserve that title after everything he’s done for the national team?

Speedy: He’s certainly up there. He played for a long time in the English Premier League, and you have to know what you’re doing to play at that level. But the best ever? I’m not sure.

Andrew: Who would you have up there then?

Speedy: Johnny Warren was pretty good in his day. He played for usat the 1974 World Cup. There’s also Mark Schwarzer and Harry Kewell to consider.

Andrew: It’s a big call labellingsomeone “the best ever”. For me, he’s in the top two. Harry Kewell is the most talented player Australia has produced, but his body let him down as he got older. In terms of contribution to the national team, the only person who can match Cahill is Schwarzer. I daresay Schwarzer’s keeping has saved Australia more often than Cahill’s goals, but both men have hadmighty careers on the international stage.

Speedy: Too right. Can we talk about some tennis now please?

Andrew:We can. I guess it’s all about Nick Kyrgios. How far can he go? All the way? I only hope he gets a new haircut if he makes it tothe final.

Speedy: You’re the last person to be talking about hairwith your baldscalp, mate. But it’ll be interestingto see. I originally picked Roger Federer to win the men’s title, but he didn’t even make it past the first week. I’ll go Novak Djokovic now. I don’t think he’s dropped a set.

Andrew: But what about Kyrgios? Can he do something remarkable?

Speedy: Never say never. He’s got Andy Murray next, and he’s more than capable of pulling off an upset. If there’s going to be a shock or two, I reckon it’ll come from him.

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South Whyalla Cricket Club scores $3800

SCORE: South Whyalla Cricket Club president Allan Woolford said a $3800 state government Active Club Program grant would help the club move forward.

South Whyalla Cricket Club will continue to grow after receiving a $3800 state government Active Club Program grant to go towards new equipment, uniforms and club promotion.

South Whyalla Cricket Club president Allan Woolford said the grant would help build the A grade side since its reintroduction into the competition in 2013.

Mr Woolford said the club committee was in discussion over how to spend the grant but said the funding boost would help move the club forward, with new cricket netsalso completed late last year.

South Whyalla Cricket Club was one of six successful applicants in the Eyre Peninsula and West Coast region during the second round of grants for 2014/15.

Other successful clubs include Iron Knob Golf Club, Cleve District Bowling Club, Kapinnie Mount Hope Cricket Club, Lock Football Club and Streaky Bay Tennis Club.

Recreation and Sport minister Leon Bignell said sport clubs played a key role in the health and welfare of communities throughout the state.

“Sport is often at the heart of community life, especially in regional areas,” he said.

“The Active Club Program helps our sport and recreation clubs to continue to deliver the programs and services they provide to their respective communities.”

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Grass Roots Bull RidingPhotos

Grass Roots Bull Riding | Photos Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Bull riding action. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Current world champion bull rider Robert Mims, of Texas, USA, displays the stars and stripes of his country. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Behind the chutes, among the chaps wearing chaps. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Selling the cowboys in the Calcutta Auction is Ray White’s top auctioneer, Haesley Cush. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Kiyah Bradshaw, of Redland Bay. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Peta Browne and Cameron and Wiley Taylor, of Willowbank. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Montana Elaine Long, of Gatton. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Taran Chirgwin, of Calliope, and Tyler Morgan, of Monto. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: David Mawhinney, of Beaudesert, Sam Champ, of Caboolture, and Tim McArthur, of Cooyar. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Ben and Alyssa Ballantyne, of Redland Bay. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Emma Lee Fox, of Coochiemudlo Island. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Kerry Payne, of Coominya, and Cheyanna Long, Shannea Farrier, and Chayse Long, all of Gatton. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Patrick Mitchell and Tony Jones, of Cleveland.

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Tahlia and Andy Parr, of Calliope. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Christel Long, of Gatton, and Ty Payne and Tania Payne, both of Coominya. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Brooke and Georgie Stower, of Toowoomba, and Alia Khan of Gympie. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Destiny and Lauren Bradshaw, of Redland Bay. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Abbey Mathews, of Redland Bay, at the Thong Throwing competition. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Patrick Saunders, of Cleveland, has a go at the Thong Throwing competition. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Sonni Moratti, of Redland Bay. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Amy Hetherington, of Cloncurry, and Zac Riley-Watson, of Rockhampton. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Thong Throwing Champion Lleyton Browne, of Mount Cotton, with The Cage director Linda Grieve, of Redland Bay. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Rob Black, of Dayboro. Photo by Stephen Archer

Grass Roots Bull Riding, Redland Bay: Delia Lorac, of Highgate Hill. Photo by Stephen Archer

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Shellharbour City residents recognised on Australia Day

Australia Day Shellharbour style

Dorothy Dean and Jason Carrasco are Shellharbour City Council’s Australia Day award winners. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

TWO Shellharbour City residents have received recognition for their extensive community work at the Australia Day Celebrations.

Twenty-one year old cancer survivor, Jason Carrasco was named Young Citizen of the year, while Albion Park RSL Sub Branch member Dorothy Dean received the Citizen of the Year Award.

Shellharbour City Mayor Marrianne Saliba said the two recipients were more than worthy winners.

‘‘Jason’s work has had a huge impact not just in our area but the broader community as well, his work with the You Can centres has given young people battling cancer an important place to come together and share their stories and experiences and he shows the quality of young people we have in our region,’’ Cr Saliba said.

‘‘Dorothy is just an absolute gem and shows the calibre of volunteers we have in the region, her work not only with the RSL and their Day Club programs, but with Meals On Wheels and other organisations helps a large number of people and it’s great we can recognise somebody like her.’’

Mr Carrasco, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 18 said the award was a shock and dedicated it to close friend Cassie Nascimento, who passed away following a battle with brain cancer.

‘‘This award was definitely a shock, the things I’ve done have never been to win an award, they’ve been to help people and to keep Cassie’s memory alive,’’ he said.

‘‘When I was in treatment, Cassie was always there for me, she was in remission then and then she relapsed, I just wanted to help people the way she helped me and keep her memory alive, this award is for her as much as it is for me.’’

You Can is a youth cancer program founded by the Sony Foundation of which Mr Carrasco is an ambassador, last year his You can Walk For Cass event raised $70, 000 for the program.

Mrs Dean, a former member of the air force, also said she was surprised to have been named a recipient.

‘‘When I heard I was nominated I was shocked, then I saw the calibre of the others who had been nominated and I thought any of them should win befor me,’’ she said.

‘‘A lot of my walk has been with elderly people and I just think it’s important to give back to them.

‘‘They’re people who have gone through the hard times, women who had to look after the house and family while their husbands where at war, these people have gone through so much and I think it’s important there’s somebody to help them now when they need it.’’

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Shire’s 2015 Australia Day

Shire’s 2015 Australia Day TweetFacebookCommunity Service Citizen of the Year – Tim Leader

As a member and position holder in three community groups – Bellingen Lions Club, Bellingen SES and Bellingen Showground Trust, Tim has worked on a wide range of projects that have been a direct benefit to the Community over the past 30 years. Tim has held all the important positions in his Lions Club, and has been actively involved with work projects including the Showground, Cemetery and Bellorana Nursing Home.

His 16 years work with the Showground Trust has seen him President for three terms, and he has put in countless hours building, replacing, upgrading, maintaining and repairing the heritage buildings and grounds of the Showground. Tim has been involved with the SES for 22 years, many years as the Deputy Controller. Currently, he is acting Controller, responsible for SES members, liaison with SES HQ, co-ordinating SES rescues and training, flood alerts and monitoring and all thing related to natural disasters in the valley.

Sportsperson of the Year – Justin Alford

Justin is another young person we have seen before. Playing in his chosen sport of Hockey, Justin has had a very successful year playing in Division 1 men’s hockey who won gold at Coffs Harbour, the first time in 7 years. His team won the Premiership in Grafton Premier League, and Justin was named Players Player by his Club.

Justin was named in the NSW Open Men’s Country Team which went on to win Gold at the Nationals. From there, he was named in the Australian U21’s Country Team to tour Fiji in December to compete in the Oceania Pacific Cup. And so it goes on, a very busy year for Justin and an inspiration for many other young players and fostering a local interest in the sport of Hockey.

Junior Sportsperson of the Year – Jonty Neaves

Jonty is one of those all-round sportspeople that leave us mere mortals shaking our head in wonder. A student at Bellingen High School, Jonty’s sporting endeavours cover:-

Athletics; where he is the School 16 years Champion, Mid North coast CHS 16 years Champion and North Coast CHS 16 years Champion. In the NSW CHS Athletics he was 7th in the 800m

Cross country; where he is the Bellingen High School 16 years age Champion; runner-up Mid North Coast CHS 16 years age Champion; runner-up North coast CHS 16 years age Champion.

Cricket; where he was part of the Bellingen High School Zone Championship Team; he was selected for the Mid North Coast CHS Open Team as well as selected for the North Coast CHS Open Team.

Jonty’s favourite sport, however, is AFL Football, and to pursue this avenue he has to find opportunities outside the School environment, which he does. Jonty has assisted younger members of the school as a role model and helping to run sports events such as umpiring cricket and helping in primary school athletics carnivals.

Team of the Year – 19 Years Girls Futsal Team – Bellingen High School

The 19 Years Girls Futsal Team were undefeated through all their preliminary rounds and were the Northern NSW Champions. This qualified them for the Australian Championships and they were again undefeated during the preliminary rounds. In the Semi-finals the Team defeated Robina High School 8 – 2 and qualified for the finals against Harristown SHS (a football academy school).

The team won the Grand Final 6 – 3, and were announced the Australian Champions.

Community Event of the Year – Bellingen Agricultural Show

The Bellinger River Agricultural Show is an iconic regional event that has run for more than 140 years. The Show combines traditional agricultural activities and exhibitions, arts and crafts and top class local entertainment. In recent years the Show has grown significantly and the program is continually evolving to maintain its relevance within the local community.

The Vision Statement for the Show expresses not only what the Show means to the Society but also what it delivers to the community that supports it. The Society’s vision is for a “sustainable, inclusive community event which reflects the past, celebrates the present and looks to the future”. This year the gate numbers, entries in all sections, trade stalls and displays increased. A successful year again.

Creative Arts Youth Award – Abigail Hardinge

This year the Creative Arts Award goes to Abigail Hardinge, last year a year 6 student at St Mary’s School in Bellingen. Abigail submitted a poem in the nationally recognised ‘BOSTES Write On’ competition. BOSTES stands for Board of Studies Teaching and Education Standards, and is the peak educational organisation in NSW. Abigail competed against students from all over NSW, and won one of six gold Medals awarded in her age group.

Abigail’s poem will now be published in the ‘Write On Anthology’, a book published by BOSTES and sold to Schools across the country and internationally to inspire students in their writing. Abigail’s win reflects the high standards of education in rural Australia, and brings prestige to her School and the Bellinger Shire she lives in.

Wings, By Abigail Hardinge

Tears of grief, sadness and fear

I wish for her to hold me near

There’s an emptiness that swirls around

It fills every corner without a sound

I know she’s gone, through clouds and sky

She didn’t even say goodbye

I have a feeling, deep down inside

A pain, an ache it’s hard to describe

Then one day, she’s back

Blue, white and black

Wings spread wide, feathery head held high

I knew then, she never died

I followed her through green and brown

Through trunks and leaves, out of town

Rustling leaves whispered above

While twigs and sticks cracked, dry, unloved

She led me to a pond so clear

With snow-drops and lilies, the fear is not here

She looked into my heart with bright brown eyes

And whispered to me this is not goodbye

She then sang a song, pure and sweet

Her song, our song, our hearts meet

The song that previously healed all worry

Her eyes say the message, I am truly sorry

That song healed me, my thoughts, my heart

It stitched me up, where I had fallen apart

It reminded me, my job my duty

It reminded me of life’s true beauty

My mother, gave me wings, she made me fly

Now it’s no longer, me myself and I

She left, but I know she’ll always watch me

She’s there in the stars, the rivers, the trees

And so now I’m strong, I live, I love

Forever in my mind, my mother, my dove

I feel her warmth, her passion, her care

Everything I do because I know she’s there

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Memorial Gate gets upgrade

UPGRADE: Whyalla City Council group manager community Migelle Hiscock has been working with RSL to achieve upgrades to Memorial Gate in readiness for the 2015 Anzac Centenary commemorations.Memorial Gate is undergoing a major upgrade in readiness for the 2015 Anzac Centenary commemorations.

The upgrade is being supported through Whyalla City Council receiving $27,000 of federal funding as part of its Anzac Centenary local grants program.

Whyalla City Council group manager communityMigelleHiscock said the community services department had been working closely with the RSL to achieve some “much longed for” upgrades.

Whyalla RSL president Matthew McDonnell said he was “very appreciative” the iconic site was being upgraded.

“The site of the Whyalla war memorial has been the centre piece for all Remembrance Day services for decades and the Memorial Gates are an iconic part of the site,” he said.

“The Whyalla RSL members are extremely grateful for the work being done and are excited to see the completed work.”

Mrs Hiscock said residents would have noticed a change in the past week with the archway overhaul underway.

“The memorial archway is the current upgrade to the area, with the arch being removed from site to allow the contractors to blast, repair and paint,” she said.

“It is expected that the arch will be absent from site for a couple of weeks whilst work is undertaken; the arch will be then reinstated with a crossand new lighting installed.”

Mrs Hiscock said other works had already been completed and further works, including landscaping and maintenance of seating, was planned.

“Other upgrades that have already been undertaken in recent months include the rejuvenation of the cenotaph with the engraving being reworked, the stone walls have been cleaned and the brass plaques have been cleaned and resealed,” she said.

“The two ticket boxes have been rendered and concrete paths have been installed to reduce tripping and flooding hazards.”

Mrs Hiscock said photographs of the original memorial showed the gates were part of the design but had been removed from the site.

If funds allow, the council said it would like to reinstate gates to the archway.

Memorial Gate was first erected in 1952 at the entrance of Memorial Oval as a tribute to those who enlisted in World War II from Whyalla.

Mrs Hiscock said the arch would be reinstated shortly and all other works on site would be completed before Anzac Day as per the grant requirements.

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