Celebrate out volunteers
Celebrate out volunteers The Daily Examiner

UNSUNG HEROES: Our heroes behind the scenes

LOVE it or hate it, the Power 30 countdown of the Clarence Valley's Most Influential has piqued plenty of interest.

We acknowledge that the list of 30 is far from definitive and a mere snapshot of the many people making a difference in our region.

Making the cut is even harder for the unsung heroes, those people behind the scenes who can have an equally positive impact on their community as some of the better known movers and shakers, but often go unnoticed even by those they're helping.

Below are 15 of these unsung heroes. We know there are many more just as worthy of recognition and on behalf of all of us at The Daily Examiner I'd like to thank all of those who went above and beyond for the Clarence Valley in 2018.

Here are our unsung heroes:

Emma Joseph at the Black Tie Ball for mental health at the Grafton District Services Club on August 25, 2018.
Emma Joseph at the Black Tie Ball for mental health at the Grafton District Services Club on August 25, 2018. Caitlan Charles

Emma Joseph

EMMA JOSEPH could see a need for more awareness of mental health in the Clarence Valley, and stepped up to make The Black Tie Ball happen.

In August, hundreds of people filled the auditorium in the GDSC, all ready to help spread the message Emma had worked so hard to create.

Raising more than $6000 for Headspace Grafton, Emma's tireless efforts to get people talking about mental health and break down the stigma around it paid off.

She's already hard at work planning the 2019 Black Tie Ball, having held her first fundraiser at the CRJC Christmas Races.

Northern Rivers winners  Wendy Dalton, Karin Brown and Gemma Rygate Centre for Volunteering CEO
Northern Rivers winners Wendy Dalton, Karin Brown and Gemma Rygate Centre for Volunteering CEO Julian Pennisi

Wendy Dalton

WENDY Dalton has racked up more than two decades of distinguished service leading awareness and support programs for young indigenous people particularly focussing on suicide prevention, support for breast cancer survivors and promoting better access to health services.

So when she found herself nominated and a regional winner in the search for the NSW Volunteer of the Year, the South Grafton High stalwart found the experience overwhelming.

After so many years working selflessly Ms Dalton more than deserved her hour in the limelight.

Ann and John McLean enjoy a quiet moment after they learned their campaign to get an ambulance station to Iluka had succeeded.
Ann and John McLean enjoy a quiet moment after they learned their campaign to get an ambulance station to Iluka had succeeded. Adam Hourigan

John and Ann McLean

LYING in the back of an ambulance after a long wait in his home at Iluka, John McLean said he was determined that the town should have its own ambulance station.

Both John and his wife Ann formed the Iluka Ambulance Action Group, and began getting signatures on a petition.

The couple never gave up, and finally after deputy premier John Barilaro became involved, attending a community meeting in November, he returned to give them good news that the station would be built.

Lauded as heroes by many at the meeting, the town of Iluka will be eternally thankful for their work.

Volunteers in Policing Dorothy Burns and Colleen Pearsall - being recognised in Sydney for their work in court support. Photo: Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner.
Volunteers in Policing Dorothy Burns and Colleen Pearsall - being recognised in Sydney for their work in court support. Photo: Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner. Adam Hourigan

Dorothy Burns

BORN in Papua New Guinea, Dorothy Burns arrived in Australia 48 years ago and has been living in Grafton for the past 28.

She worked at the Grafton Women's Refuge for 20 years, but in 1997 she saw the need for court support staff at Grafton.

"I begged (registrar) Jim Maguire to give us a room at the front of the courthouse,” Dorothy said.

"He agreed, but told us that when District Court was sitting we would have to move out.

"I could see that the need for court support staff was so great I gave up my paid work to volunteer full-time.”

Dorothy continues her volunteer work at the court to this day.

UNSUNG HERO: Dan Fahey
UNSUNG HERO: Dan Fahey Caitlan Charles

Dan Fahey

HE MAY live and breathe the philosophy "life is a stage”, but Dan Fahey's commitment to the Clarence theatrical scene doesn't end when the velvet curtains fall.

The talented actor/singer/playwright holds no parochial feelings as he spreads his volunteering skills across the Clarence River supporting Grafton's Criterion Theatre and the Pelican Playhouse in the South.

When he's not in costume performing, you might find the busy pharmacist in a t-shirt mowing the theatres' grounds or handing out ice creams at interval.

Whether it's under the spotlight or behind the scenes, Dan does whatever it takes to see our theatrical scene thrive.

Sr Anne Gallagher of Maclean, awarded an OAM for her services to music and the Catholic church.

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Sr Anne Gallagher of Maclean, awarded an OAM for her services to music and the Catholic church. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

Sr Anne Gallagher

SR ANNE Gallagher has been the face of music in the Lower Clarence since her arrival at the Maclean convent in 1984.

Starting from one room in the convent, the school now has hundreds of students through the door and multiple teachers, and has produced thousands of musicians throughout those years.

Awarded an OAM for services in 2015, Sr Anne also uses musical therapy to introduce music to younger children, and leads the Maclean Music Academy Ensemble, currently providing the music for the many carol services around the Lower Clarence.

HONOUR: Grafton Hockey Association Lyn Newby with Rick Sampson, who has been honoured with a life membership in recognition of his coaching work.
HONOUR: Grafton Hockey Association Lyn Newby with Rick Sampson, who has been honoured with a life membership in recognition of his coaching work. Christopher Blanchard

Rick Sampson

RICK Sampson is the Hockey NSW regional development coach and runs the local branch of the Centre of Development program, training about 30 juniors at 6am on Tuesday mornings.

Sampson has run the elite training sessions in his own time for the benefit of Clarence Valley's brightest hockey talents for many years, producing countless state representatives.

He is a life member of Grafton Hockey Association and this year coached the premiership-winning City Bears Men's Premier League side and the first ever City Bears women's first grade side, reaching the grand final.

Jenny Vickery surrounded by some of the donations for the donation drive for our farmers.
Jenny Vickery surrounded by some of the donations for the donation drive for our farmers.

Jenny Vickery

JENNY Vickery has been one of the hard-working community members in the Clarence Valley's campaign to help drought-stricken farmers and their families.

Ms Vickery started Warm Touch 2460 in 2015 to knit Knitted Knockers for breast cancer survivors, which then led to the group knitting all sorts of items for people in need.

Since the worst of the drought hit she has worked tirelessly with her team to collect boxes of food and gifts to send to the farmers.

They had sent close to 500 boxes full of food, toiletries and more to Tamworth, close to 100 backpacks and more than 800 gifts.

Ryan Brown looks over the speed sign that wil be soon be changed around teh Ulmarra village after campaigning.
Ryan Brown looks over the speed sign that wil be soon be changed around teh Ulmarra village after campaigning. Adam Hourigan Photography

Ryan Brown

RYAN Brown, who lives by the highway in Ulmarra, has lived through trucks crashing through his home multiple times, and after another crash early this year decided to do something about it.

He started campaigning to lower speed limits and have a speed camera installed in the town to reduce the speed of vehicles - cars and trucks alike.

The speed zones for Ulmarra were extended earlier in the year, and in November a speed camera was installed near one of the treacherous corners in the town.

Mr Brown proved that by campaigning for something he believed in, he could now sleep better at night.

South Services Gunners president Shanon Tough.



Photo Matthew McInerney / Daily Examiner
South Services Gunners president Shanon Tough. Photo Matthew McInerney / Daily Examiner Matthew McInerney

Shanon Tough

SOUTH Services Gunners president Shanon Tough believes sport is one part of life that shouldn't have barriers.

Tough has worked tirelessly to build the junior ranks and provide opportunities at the Gunners, and was a key figure in the merge of Grafton City and South Services senior ranks to form Grafton United.

But it is his work in recent years with non-profit organisation Special Olympics Australia to bring all-inclusive sport to the region that stands out.

Tough has encouraged people living with a disability to get involved in a range of sports including touch football, soccer, cricket and netball.

Hard Workers:  The Rebels Hardworking Ladies Rahni Mathews, Michaleen Mathews, Georgie Jabour and Cass Breitnauer.
Hard Workers: The Rebels Hardworking Ladies Rahni Mathews, Michaleen Mathews, Georgie Jabour and Cass Breitnauer. Contributed

Mr and Mrs Jabour

ANDREW and Georgie Jabour are unsung heroes behind the scenes for South Grafton Rebels junior and seniors rugby league.

Georgie runs the canteen at McKittrick Park, including all the stock ordering, organising helpers and cleaning, and spends home games in the canteen for up to 14 hours a day. She also opens it for events such as Daily Examiner Shield and school gala days.

Andrew helps set up every weekend, stays late to help clean the grounds, is a conscientious recycler, mans the front gate all season, helps seek out club sponsors and takes part in other community events Rebels are involved in.

Building owners The Smidt family, Merv, centre, Col and his wife Cindy have been generous with a rent honeymoon for the proposed Country University Centre at 146 Pound St, Grafton.
Building owners The Smidt family, Merv, centre, Col and his wife Cindy have been generous with a rent honeymoon for the proposed Country University Centre at 146 Pound St, Grafton. Tim Howard

Merv Smidt

IF YOU were looking for a definition of unsung hero, it would be long-time Grafton volunteer and community worker Merv Smidt.

A member of a family that traces its links to Grafton back to 1879, he has spent countless hours working for the community.

Whether it was with the Salvation Army, a director at the Bendigo Bank, or a bus driver for Community Transport, Mr Smidt gave his time cheerfully and plentifully.

He and his brother have recently made a generous offer of premises to the newly-formed Clarence Valley Country University centre.

Ashby's Stephanye Holden is an unsung hero of the Clarence Valley.
Ashby's Stephanye Holden is an unsung hero of the Clarence Valley.

Stephanye Holden

COMMUNITY engagement officer and secretary of Ashby Rural Fire Service, Stephanye Holden gives her time and energy to multiple causes to improve the community she has chosen to call home.

She doesn't just put on her protective gear to fight fires, she performs multiple thankless tasks for the local brigade and is second in charge of Clarence Valley RFS catering, providing meals during training days and times of firefighting.

She has also devoted her time to the Women's Shed in Maclean, the local dragon boat crew and provided support in the Grafton oncology unit as a palliative care volunteer.

Trisha Cole, Melissa Livermore, Taneesha Strong and Robyn Cole (Absent: Kaashan Martin) - the
Trisha Cole, Melissa Livermore, Taneesha Strong and Robyn Cole (Absent: Kaashan Martin) - the "Deadly Doobs" team who won the Biggest Loser teams competition last year. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

Melissa Livermore

CAMELLIA Cottage community worker Melissa Livermore lives for her community.

Her involvement ranges from running programs at the Cottage to provide activities to keep young people off the streets to external programs including Midnight Basketball and moves to get a PCYC established in Grafton.

She is a passionate fighter against the influence of drugs on her people and in the community in general.

There are not too many committees running programs on youth issues where you won't find Ms Livermore working long hours in some capacity to better lives for her people.

Judy and Neil Disson at the CRCA Presentation night

Photo Matthew Elkerton / Daily Examiner
Judy and Neil Disson at the CRCA Presentation night Photo Matthew Elkerton / Daily Examiner Matthew Elkerton

Judy and Neil Disson

FROM running the canteen and cleaning toilets to performing administrative roles, Neil and Judy Disson are the double act behind the scenes that has kept Clarence River Cricket Association in tip top shape for many years.

Judy is secretary and Neil until recently was vice-president. They were instrumental in Grafton hosting a successful NSW Country Plate and Country Cup finals series during the 2016-17 season.

As a scorer Judy has rarely missed a Brothers club or CRCA representative fixture and has even had the opportunity to score for a Big Bash League match.