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The Amazing Women of the Manning


About our website Website

Our website is now live. It is built in WordPress and enables us to edit it ourselves, with some continued assistance from its generous creator Ayesha Hilton.

We hope you like it!  Welcome to the Manning Net 2018 – our 13th year!

we are pleased to support our netters to advertise worthy community events:

As some of you know, we have a small amount over from each meeting that we accumulate over time for incidentals and we trust that it is with Netters agreement that we make a donation – usually local – to a deserving organisation. This year our kitty has grown without the need to dip into for other requirements. We do not generally promote fundraising as part of our regular operation, but became aware of two current causes ‘over the range’ – both farming related – that we felt were more than worthy of assistance. Farmers are facing some of the most extreme drought conditions ever and I’m sure we are all aware of the strain that places on them, their families, communities, and all that depend on them – all of us!

At Wingham Services Club on Thursday July 26 we were able to pass on donations to:

Taree Quota Club representatives, President Nancy Boyling, and Deb Steber (also a regular ‘netter’). We presented our commitment of $350 toward their 'Red Umbrella' drought appeal. The generosity of our netters was also acknowledged from an ‘outside the ‘net’ collection at the June gathering of $360, taking the total from the ‘net to $710. The funds will be sent to the Walgett CWA to be distributed to families as vouchers for use in local stores.

Wingham Commonwealth Bank branch Manager Jaimie Mathiske and Barbara Green from the Commonwealth Bank were also presented with our small donation of $150 towards fuel costs for their fundraising efforts to the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners who are a group founded by Brendan Farrell committed to delivering donated hay to drought affected Australian farmers. The Club had also placed a collection tin for donations which we noted many more chose to contribute to. The fundraising efforts of the Commonwealth Bank Wingham Branch – aiming at $15,000 – will go toward assisting farmers in the New England Region.

We are appreciative of the netters generosity and our hope is that our small contribution helps to make a difference, and inspires others to help those in need however possible.

Congratulations! to our wonderful Net facilitator Donna Ballard. She is not only an integral part of the Manning Net team and many other roles, but has been recognised in this year's Australia Day honours as the 2018 Wingham Citizen of the Year for her work as the Akoostik Festival coordinator. 

Always humble, Donna's first comment was "I'm gobsmacked" and went on to recognise "the whole Akoostik family that makes it happen". Her unflagging community spirit has been acknowledged over the years (see Akoostik Award story below as one example) and this prestigious award is well deserved. She posted this following the presentation:

"Thanks to all the beautiful people in the community that have taken the time to pass on congratulations for the Australia Day Award I was fortunate to receive. I hold you all in high esteem ❤️ and you make this place so special ! I’m excited, appreciative, humbled and thankful. I particularly would like to thank Janeece Irving and Marcia Bourke for starting the AKOOSTIK conversation in 2006, and to Caron Watkins for agreeing to auspice the event from the very beginning . Our current committee is amazing – Debbie Horgan, Larry Belton, Kevin Ballard, Jody Morphett, Adam Birkefeld and Julie Blanch – and we wouldn’t be where we are without Sandra babs, James Law, Russell McFarland, Nicola Morton, Rebecca Bird, Susie Minett, Emily Braithwaite and Linden! Thanks to everyone who sponsors, supports and attends the festival and makes it so much fun year after year. I hope I can continue to do great things for our manning valley community #bestplaceonearth"

See the Wingham Chronicle report at:


Following on from Donna's Australia Day Award, she has been named Myall Lakes' 2018 Local Woman of the Year by Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead. The award recognises her dedication and hard work across the Manning and in the Wingham Community. It was presented, on March 27, just a few days after her guest speaker appearance at the Manning Net where she spoke of the path that has led her to her current roles. We at The Manning Net have an appreciation of just how deserving this award is

Mr Bromhead said Donna’s commitment to bringing positive change to the Manning and Wingham through the Wingham Akoostik Festival, Manning Net, her service through Sunrise Rotary and the Wingham Chamber of Commerce made her an outstanding candidate.



Campaign aims for more palliative care services in the Manning Valley (MVP4P) 

The campaign to create a community group to meet the growing need for palliative care services for Manning Valley residents began in 2015. Following the initial information meeting held at Club Taree on Tuesday 4 August 2015, a further meeting was held on August 18 where membership, office bearer and management committee positions were enthusiastically filled.

If would like to become involved with MVP4P, and see the provision of palliative services in our area strengthened and would like to see this group succeed, or

for further information, contact Judy Hollingworth,  0409558652

Find us on Facebook:





 The annual

 Killabakh Day in the Country

Is now held on: 

 the  First Saturday in September  at Killabakh Community Hall, 1676 Comboyne Road




Past awards:

And the GOLD AWARD goes to:

Our very own Netter/Facilitator Donna Ballard, in her capacity of Akoostik Festival organiser, along with some of the other team members, were awarded GOLD in the Festivals and Events category at Saturday's (30/7/16) North Coast and Legendary Pacific Coast Tourism Awards in Port Macquarie. Akoostik and two other local businesses, Bent on Food and Boogie Woogie Beach house, won Gold. They will all now go through to the State Awards to be held later in the year.

Congratulations to Donna and all the volunteers as well as the other winners – great recognition for our local area!

See media articles at: and


TMN – Next Meeting – 22 November 2018:

End Of Year Celebrations – Ruth Brown's Trivia Teaser

Thanks to the research talents of our dedicated Trivia Compiler, Ruth Brown, this has become an annual tradition. Ruth will challenge our knowledge with her usual fun, informative and entertaining quiz. This year is the 'loosely' themed "Food Glorious Food", but Ruth advises that there are no references to 'Oliver', but will have some of her usual obscure questions "from food around the world to Vegemite and beyond".

Come along and enjoy the usual great company of The Manning Netters.


Please join us at 6.30 pm, on Thursday November 22 at Club Taree.  RSVP by 10 am Monday November 19 at the latest.

You can advise us via any of the methods mentioned on our contacts page.

25 October 2018:

Helen Knight – 30 years on for the Manning Entertainment Centre (MEC)

This year celebrates the 30 year anniversary of the MEC and provided some background into Centre's history and some existing plans toward the future developments in store for one of our regions great attributes. Government funding combined with a generous bequeath by June Flett has allowed for planning of a PA upgrade and a Studio Space design.

Helen joined the MEC as audience development and Sales Co-ordinator and loves that she works in the arts. Jobs of this type are rare in regional areas which makes her feel lucky to be in this role. She entertained us with stories of her pathway from the Melbourne Comedy and Theatre scene to her current position and her passion and enthusiasm for all thing theatre and entertainment as well as our local wonderful facility shone through. The variety of productions – local and international, and the great teamwork with other staff and contact with the community all go into the mix of making her job so enjoyable.

27 September 2018:

Judy Hollingworth – Manning Valley Push for Palliative (MVP4P) Founder and Chair, on "Belonging"

Judy serves on the Board of Directors at Palliative Care Australia and is the founder and chair of the local "Manning Valley Push 4 Palliative". This is a charity dedicated to raising awareness, and fundraising toward providing, a broad spectrum of palliative care needs and services within the Manning Valley. However, this does not define Judy as she has a wealth of prior experience that she brings this current role.

Judy allowed us all into her own journey of belonging beginning with her family history origins of grandparents of mixed Anglo and Indian origin which dictated strict rules and limits available to them under the Indian caste system. There has been incidences of a variety of traumas over the generations including violence, alcoholism and mental illness. Judy's family made their way to Australia where she developed skills over a variety of professions and learned personal lessons along the way. Her openness and spirit of sharing was an honour to be included in.

She and her partner along with two other couples trialled a joint living arrangement in Sydney and all six have since moved to the Manning where they continue in this arrangement calling themselves the "Shedders" from their original lodgings on the property they built their home on. Judy nursed her sister through an aggressive form of cancer until her passing and says this 'gave' her palliative care which she learned during this time and recognised the great need for this in the local area which then led to beginning the local Push 4 Palliative initiative.

An added bonus for the evening was a closing rendition of 'Sing You' by Rachel Hore by the beautifully harmonising voices of the Wingsong choir who Judy sings with and were present in great number to hear her talk and support her.


23 August 2018:

Roger Griffiths – Journey of "The Minstrel Boy", Music Director, Manning Valley Concert Band

Once again we were delighted with tale of exceptional ability and opportunities that lead Roger on his musical journey. From his birth and early years in England seeing him and his brothers involved in the church choir, then onto enlisting in the army to develop a lifelong love and involvement with band music. An opportunity to become involved in teaching ultimately led him to the Manning Valley where we are fortunate enough to reap the benefit of his commitment to guiding the Manning Valley Concert Band to excel and share his passion for music as an integral part of life.

The Manning Valley Concert Band has a 60 year history – the longest established band, and Roger has been involved since 2009. His role as director involves taking the weekly rehearsals, directing the band during performances, provide direction and guidance for players, secure performance opportunities and assist in recruiting new members and build relationships in the local community.

Roger brings a wealth of background experience to the role from his initial enlistment to the Army as an apprentice musician through 21 years of Regular Army service and 6 years with the Army Reserve. He then spent 14 years at SCEGGS Redlands in Cremorne, Sydney, teaching music to children, another passion he brings in working with the local school community.

Any who attended the recent concerts will attest to the professionalism and delight of experiencing a Manning Valley Concert Band presentation thanks to Rogers leadership.

26 July 2018:

Jonty Hemmingway  – Livestock & Production Assistant – Wingham Beef Exports – (the Manning Valley's largest employer)

How refreshing to hear from a young woman who has achieved so much already and has a clear vision of how she wishes to pursue her career into the future.


At 21 years of age, Jonty has already impressed many in the Meat Industry. She recounted an almost overwhelming list of achievements – from her initial debut into the cattle showing and judging arena at Wingham Beef Week at age 11, through to attaining the highest honours at State and National awards in judging. This caught the attention of management at Wingham Beef Exports who offered her employment before she had completed her HSC. She knew that this was where she wanted to be, so she stayed on and studies by distance as her employer accommodated her plan to study at the University of New England by factoring in time for study and the required on campus time for her dual degree of Bachelor of Agriculture and Bachelor of Business. Coupled with her work place learning across the many facets of the business, she is gaining an extensive knowledge of the industry. 


Jonty also mentioned, as an aside, her sporting pursuits – another area she excels in. This includes Hockey and having been selected in this year's North Coast TAG football squad. Her enthusiasm for chosen career path, place of employment, studies, and a very proud love of her home community of Wingham really shone through. It made for a delightful evening indeed.


28 June 2018:

Bruce Hopper  – Genetics Cousellor – Hereditary conditions and family history


Bruce is the local genetics counsellor for the Lower Mid north coast and has been working in this area since 1998. His talk about genetics and family history and hereditary conditions, including breast and bowel cancer, highlighted the complexity of the science of genetics. He spoke of factors indicating the risk of developing some conditions and even when a genetic marker is not present in an individual, that it is not assured the condition will not present in future generations if it was present in past generations. The overwhelming message was that the more genome sequencing becomes part of medical testing, the more convoluted results can become and often lead to more questions about other anomalies discovered through the process than the answers being sought.


Bruce also spoke about the new government initiative "McKenzie's Mission" – about pre pregnancy genetic screening. This can help couples make informed decisions when planning a family, but associated with this are a raft of often controversial decisions in progressing with pregnancy. Another common occurrence is that couples often present when already at an advanced stage of pregnancy, bringing with it even more difficult and ethical questions if a high risk factor is indicated.


24 May2018:


Rachel Piercy – Art Gallery Director – Behind the scenes at the Manning Regional Art Gallery


Rachel spoke about her journey that led to her working in the arts, from her formative years in a specially sought and nurturing school, through further studies which ultimately found her studying art – a passion she held from school days.


She joined the Manning Regional Art Gallery in 2009 and has progressed to being the current Gallery Director. Rachel made many references to her predecessor Sue Mitchell as being a great inspiration and guide in running the gallery for the community and with the community as well as nurturing relationships with Artists. She gave us insight into the functioning of a regional gallery as distinct from private and larger galleries. She accorded much of the Gallery's ongoing success to the massive input received from "the Friends of the Gallery" volunteers and supporters. An overview of the history of the arts in the Manning, from exhibitions being held in the Council Office basement, through the first dedicated space at the Manning Entertainment Centre, to the current Gallery in Macquarie Street, highlighted what a major role the community voice and funding have played. 


The Gallery has been a cultural hub for art and community engagement for the Manning Valley and Midcoast region for 30 years. A dedicated gallery had been sought for the area many years prior to this. The success of the gallery is largely due to constant local support and the rich talent that a diverse and outstanding exhibition program throughout the year showcases. This includes emerging and established artists, group and solo shows, local artists and high profile touring shows.


Rachel has a strong vision for the future development for the Gallery, both in its physical presence and farther reaching services throughout the community. We were treated to a video of the attempt to build a traditional blackbutt bark canoe which was documented in 2012. The canoe was a great success and has travelled to and featured in many events over the ensuing years, and is still going strong! This is just one example of the diversity a well supported arts culture can bring to the community and showed us previously unrecognised aspects of the Gallery's role in our community.



26 April 2018:


Morgan Stewart – CEO, Club Taree – White Ribbon day


Morgan Stewart is currently serving in his 3rd year as Club Taree’s Chief Executive Officer and continues to build on the strong community support that the club is proud to offer.


Morgan presented a powerful talk about White Ribbon (domestic violence) and how as a White Ribbon Ambassador, he applies his knowledge and empathy in his role as CEO of Club Taree.


Brought up with domestic violence in his family, Morgan has embraced the idea of preventative measures in the workplace as well as assistance when required.


Violence against women is a man's issue with one of the major causes of violence in the home being alcohol related. Pubs and Clubs traditionally have been male dominated spaces with old school behaviours and attitudes towards women. Club Taree challenges this notion, making the club available for everyone to enjoy equally and safely.


22 March 2018:


Donna Ballard – Community Connectedness


As you can see from articles above, our very own Manning Net facilitator, Donna, is a great achiever for the community. With some trepidation, and following her much deserved Citizen of the Year Award, she agreed to tell her story of "the connectedness I feel to the community, what paths I’ve had in the past, where I am presently and what plans I’d like to develop in the future."

Undeterred by the town-wide power blackout, Donna spoke of her early working career in the fashion industry, both locally and in Sydney, and of her and husband Kevin’s decision to return to the Manning Valley over a decade ago.

Foremost among reasons for returning were the wish to reconnect with community and to make a difference. Donna has certainly achieved both these goals in spades! Not only has her tremendous leadership skills and love of music kick-started Wingham’s Akoostik festival but she has worked hard to ensure it will continue and grow for many years to come.

Donna has also made her mark through her involvement with Sunrise Rotary and the Wingham Chamber of Commerce and her employment and family involvements. Her plans for the future include use of the riverbank stage in Taree to invigorate the Manning, again with music being central.

Of course, her role over many years as a facilitator of The Manning Net is arguably how we know her best. Aren’t we fortunate?

22 February 2018:


Louise Rourke – How does your dog think?


Our new year began with a huge response – 100 netters were keen to hear Louise Rourke BVSc (Hons) MANZCVS (Animal Behaviour) MCI (CPDT), Vet, behaviourist and instructor share her insights into animal behaviour with us. Dogs, "What on Earth do We Think They’re Thinking" ……….and they weren't disappointed.

Dogs and people have been together for a long time – 40 000 years or more.  Anyone who has experience with living with a dog will recognize that a unique relationship exists between humans and canines. We often seem to reach a level of communication not seen with other species. Why is this?  Why in many ways are dogs the perfect fit as companions for people?  At one point we thought that dogs did not ‘think’ at all – that they were just a well put together series of innate behaviours.  But over the last few years, research has delved more into the brains of dogs and started to reveal some very exciting answers to some of these questions.

Louise's presentation will gave us an overview of what we think….to give us more of an understanding of what they’re thinking. She shared her wealth of knowledge and insight responding to the many queries put to her following her talk.

23 November 2017:

End of Year 12 celebrations With Ruth Brown's 'Fauna Fun' trivia teaser

At the end of another successful and enjoyable year of net-working together, Ruth Brown yet again provided another challenging, and always fun, trivia teaser. The theme of this year's quiz was 'Fauna Fun', and again had everyone thinking – and learning some new and interesting facts. This event has become a real draw card to round off the year, with lots of fun and netters interaction over Ruth's always interesting range of questions.

26 October 2017:

Dr Philip Walkom – Endometriosis: The modern curse.


Local Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Philip Walkom has been serving our community for over 30 years having delivered countless babies over his 40 year career, and in doing so has gaining a great deal of respect and gratitude of so many women in his care of their gynaecological needs. This respect has now been multiplied among the Manning Netters following his presentation to our meeting. He displayed a deep empathy and understanding for women's issues especially in his chosen area of expertise.


Dr Walkom specifically discussed the topic of Endometriosis, which is neither cancerous nor life threatening, but it can cause so many problems that it has been described as "the thorn within". We were enlightened as to the invasive nature of this often debilitating women's disorder, and learned that this insidious growth can be found in many areas of the body outside the reproductive region. It can also be implicated in pain and discomfort in areas that can mislead medical practitioner's diagnoses due to its growth in unusual body regions. Unable to be 100% 'cured', surgical removal – the only way to positively diagnose its presence and removal – can often offer fresh hope to those with fertility issues.


The evening was highly informative, and appreciated by all for the opportunity to hear such an authoritative and educational presentation on a still little understood condition. Dr Walkom has said that along the way he has learned several things about life, the strength of women, and the importance of wearing bow ties! "You don't want to lean over and have your tie dangling". Hence, what better thank you gift than a new bow tie!



28 September 2017:

Rhiannon Curtis – Mid North Coast Community Engagement Coordinator for Ronald McDonald Family Retreat Forster.


Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW supports many Manning-Great Lakes families through a number of programs including Ronald McDonald Family Retreat in Forster. Rhiannon is its coordinator and manages the running of the retreat which offers families of sick children the opportunity for a break away from the cycle of Doctors appointments and hospital visits while also allowing them to reconnect as a family. Rhiannon liaises with families throughout their stay to ensure all their needs are met to achieve an enjoyable break. Many netters hadn't realised the variety of services provided, and also learned a lot about the cottages at Forster. Rhiannon's personal story of her family's experience of RM House inspired her to take on her role.


Rhiannon's role also includes liaising with social workers, and community engagement, in creating awareness of the support provided by Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW. All were impressed by Rhiannon's passion and commitment including the constant need for fund raising in many forms as a major part of her role. The retreat – established in 2008 – relies heavily on community support to supplement the 12 to 15 per cent contributed by Ronald McDonald. The provision of this important service calls for someone dedicated and dynamic at the helm, which Rhiannon demonstrated that she fills abundantly for this invaluable facility.

24 August 2017:

Dr Vera Sistenich – Emergency medicine in the Democratic Republic of Congo: supporting the growth of a medical specialty in a low resource setting.


Dr Vera Sistenich is a board certified emergency medicine specialist in Australia, where her areas of interest are Aboriginal health, medical education and the development of physician training in the field of international emergency medicine. Outside Australia, she has clinical experience in China, Nepal, Peru, South Africa, Vietnam and the UK. She has also worked with asylum seekers both at the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre in the Australian Indian Ocean territories and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. In 2013-14, she was Health Policy Advisor to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland.


Vera is HandUp Congo's project leader for the Emergency Medicine Education Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This project aims to bring life-saving Emergency Medicine (EM) skills, training, and integration of EM practice into the healthcare system of the DRC. Since the start of its activities in 2015, Vera has worked with a team of volunteers and local Congolese health professionals to deliver education, practical skills training and medical equipment to over 400 healthcare providers across 8 different medical institutions in the DRC.


Vera gave us a great insight into the program that covers many initiatives to teach communities many skills to become more self-sufficient. It takes the team to a remote village where one of our netters Lucy Hobgood-Brown, and her father, were born, and provided the catalyst for Lucy and her sister to create "HandUp Congo". The 20 hour trip in dugout canoes is an achievement in itself! Dr Vera, and other medical professionals, train locals who in turn become trainers themselves. Another of Vera's passions has also become part of the Congo initiatives – Beekeeping and honey production has proven a popular addition to community resources. Coogee Bees Honey for Congo is also available in Australia!


Vera's presentation was delivered with natural enthusiasm and impressive spectrum of content that made an impression on us all.


27 July 2017:

Kerry Grace – CEO of Regional Development Australia Mid North Coast

Also Company Director and Founder of Evolve Group Network and a mum of three children. She established her consultancy service in the Nambucca Valley with her family in 2003. In her role as CEO RDAMNC, Kerry's aim is to contribute to the organisation's vision of a Mid North Coast that embeds a culture of "innovation, opportunity, inclusion and economic prosperity".

Kerry's work as a consultant, coach and educator spans both corporate and community sectors. She is a strong advocate of mums in business leadership positions and is passionate about promoting regional Australia. Kerry is an advocate for regional living as well as having a strong social conscience. This led to her working in the education industry, particularly with 'at risk' groups which turned into an ongoing relationship with the not for profit, training and employment sectors.

Her work strives to inspire people to lead the life that matters most, by their own definition. Her talk presented this in abundance in encouraging campaigning for investment, innovation, return & relocation to ignite business and community development. Acknowledging that people need purpose & meaning in their life, and promoting positive change in community, Kerry urges for self-motivation and determination – don't wait for permission (grants/funding/approval), just get started. "Every community has thinkers, talkers, doers, – just link these types of people and get started". Keep the discussion going and stop the negative talk/gossip (most dangerous in communities) to reinforce positivity.


Kerry shared her infectious spirit with the netters in her enthusiastic, entertaining and sometimes unorthodox approach, leaving all inspired and hopeful of empowerment for any community/business venture.

2 June 2017:

Carolyn Thompson – 2017 Citizen of the Year on challenges and achievements of a life of blindness


Carolyn is a long term local and winner of the 2017 Manning Citizen of the year Award for her contribution to establishing services and connections for people with sight impairment. Carolyn has been blind since the age of four. She has raised three daughters along with acquiring a number of qualifications in business. She currently works for Manning support Services and is one of the founders of the Manning Valley Blind Citizens Association.


Carolyn's talk was inspirational, proving that no matter what your ability, life is what you make it. She delivered a very warm, open and humourous account of what it is to build a life, together with her partner who is also blind. They have managed largely unassisted and Carolyn continues to take on new challenges. Her talk covered many aspects of daily life and the methods employed to achieve what those with sight would take for granted. She had many amusing anecdotes to share which highlighted her open and fun nature. And of course, she was accompanied by her beautiful constant companion and very patient, well behaved guide dog Vadra.


25 May 2017:

Pastor Russell Saunders OAM – Experiences in Education


We were fortunate indeed to have – at very short notice – well-known local educator and artist Pastor Russell Saunders OAM as our speaker and, with the additional input from John Taylor, teachers' aid at Wingham Public School, we had a two for one bonus.


Russell and John spoke of their backgrounds and journeys that now see them in educational roles in schools helping both aboriginal and non-aboriginal children to learn about, as well as develop an understanding for and appreciation of, the strong local aboriginal culture. Russell illustrated, with the help of a DVD, his involvement in schools and how this is changing cultural relations and education for the better.


Both men spoke of strong family values as a foundation to their own development. Russell's pride in his own parents shone through in his quiet and respectful delivery and the sharing of how they grew from school mates to life partners, as well as the lessons that each imparted to him. Those lessons instilled the desire in Russell to strive in the nurturing of his own family, and he now shares these views with children across a number of local schools.


Russell is always an inspiring and passionate speaker with great stories to share, delivered in an honest, gentle, interesting and heartfelt way. Many were touched by his delivery, which was only a small portion of a much bigger story.

27 April 2017:

Renata Moores – Making a difference, with local women on a Pacific Island Peace keeping mission.


If you fly from Brisbane out into the Pacific Ocean for three hours you will come to a sovereign country consisting of six major islands and over 900 smaller islands. It sits on the "Rim of Fire" and experiences earthquakes and cyclones annually. It has coral reefs that make the Great Barrier Reef pale in comparison. It is one of the poorest nations in the Pacific. During World War II it saw fierce fighting between the United States and the Empire of Japan and is still disposing of unexploded bombs to this day. Each island has a unique culture that makes this melting pot both diverse and dangerous.


In 2003, a civil war broke out between two cultural island groups and Australia sent army, federal police and other support staff to assist with a peace keeping mission. This is the story of what a privilege and a challenge it can be when you are immersed in the melting pot of island life.


Renata shared her experience of spending 3 years working with the local women and girls and the difference this made when she accompanied her husband to a posting to the Solomon Islands.

23 March 2017:

Samantha Everett – Resilience through creativity.

Samantha is the 'Sweet-Pea' half of the art duo Sweet-Pea and Mumma. Their shop-studio-community space "a little to the left" is upstairs next to the Taree Literary Institute Library. They offer a creative space for others, "make time for me", each Wednesday, with guidance and mentoring on producing personal craft and nourishing the soul.


Samantha provided a heartfelt, humorous and entirely entertaining expose of her personal journey and depth of her soul. She is passionate about creativity particularly with textiles and repurposing of many materials – as evidenced by her colourful dress on the night, created from quality linen tea towels. 


We were treated to a visual tour of images, and explanation of a variety of methods that she employs, of some of her art installations, creations and clothing, including garments made from mattress covering and her particular favourite of felting. She uses a quote by Pablo Picasso "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away" – she certainly gave us all a great deal in sharing her story of the positive power of creativity for mental health, self-esteem and "resilience thorough creativity".


23 February 2017:

Val Schaefer – A career in Communication.


Val entertained us well with the story of her career evolution across a variety positions in Media, Marketing, Tourism, and Local Government to her current role as a Radio Producer for ABC Mid North Coast – all drawing on her well-honed skills in communication.


Val's many twists and turns, and adaptation to change along the way highlight an interesting journey which has led to back to the Manning Valley. Beginning as a cadet journalist in Armidale, NSW in a time still reliant on typewriters and telex machines then moving into Tourism with Greater Taree City Council, followed by a role in Council's media and community relations, she then crossed the range to Tamworth still in Local Government roles, but found herself rethinking career and location. A leap of faith saw her and partner Brian follow the call back to the Manning Valley – without employment. Her earlier happy experience of working in local radio prompted a call to ABC Mid North Coast Radio to gauge if there were any roles available. This proved to be 'impeccable timing' as they were short of programmers. She is now in a role she loves, and noted that there is no longer the need for bulky equipment – an iPhone can handle all the requirements to cover and publish any event. Val related that each change of course involved "a baptism of fire" only proving to enhance her skills and strengthen her career growth. She still enjoys daily challenges in meeting deadlines of program preparation with often very little lead time.


Of course there have been many acquaintances made along the way, and it was good to have a gathering of old work colleagues together on the night!

to review our 2013 to 2016 speakers, please visit the 'Previous Speakers' page under the 'News' page