In 2015, Novocastrians saw a year of epic feats and epic fails; some fought the good fight, some were celebrated for their great achievements, and others… well, let’s just say, at least they tried. Here are the notable Novocastrians who caught our eye, and the media’s attention, this year…
Newcastle’s 2014 Miss Universe Australia had a notable 2015 for several reasons, one being her appearance on TV’s Celebrity Apprentice where she more than ably dealt with the mega egos of former radio jock Mel Grieg, one of the Melbourne Housewives, and a Big Brother narcissist. Tegan continues to be one of Australia’s most in-demand models. One gets the feeling that, with Tegan, the best is yet to come.
Our Mayor is either really ballsy or really ignorant – we think and we hope it’s the former. She was a bit fluffy at first, crusading for a rainbow crossing in Newcastle (and we know there are lives at stake!) and deflecting the political snipes that seems to infect our elected Council. The BIG thing Nuatali did though, was remind the process-driven bureaucrats in Council that they are not elected officials – they are there to implement, manage and advise – and she did it by sacking the General Manager no less. Now, if only the rest of the dysfunctional bureaucracy would step up and help, rather than hinder the vision for this city. If not, then many Newcastle residents will hope we do in fact merge with Lake Macquarie and become as professional as they are. In the meantime, Mayor Nelmes, fight the good fight!
Inspired by a sign his grandfather made for Braye Park at Waratah, Marcus Westbury is changing the world for the better bit by bit. 2015 saw the release of his crowd-funded book Creating Cities, a mighty documentary on the man and his mission. He speaks of his frustrations in Newcastle as he finds that our systems (bloody bureaucracy again) actually inhibit individuals with good ideas from transforming the city, instead perpetuating mediocrity and decay. If it weren’t for Marcus and his Renew Newcastle strategy (that saw disused city spaces occupied by an array of arts, crafts and retail vendors), we would still be throttled by the post-BHP decay. Marcus actually changed things. A Novocastrian to be proud of.
NBN’s ever-amiable, impressively moustached sports presenter, Mike Rabbitt, retired in 2015 after a reported near 30 years of service… Or did he? Mike has appeared on our screens from time to time since his official departure, but we’re always glad to have him back. Not only did he have an exceptional knowledge of sport, Mike was seen almost every weekend at one local ground or another watching/encouraging/ mentoring many young Novocastrians in their sporting endeavours. A genuine part of the Hunter sporting fabric – farewell (sort of) Mike.
Joan, oh Joan. She means well. Newcastle’s Great Rail Debate was finally over in 2015 and one half of it was propelled by the Save Our Rail (SOR) group, headed up by Joan. Regardless of which side of the track you’re on, Joan has to be respected for her determination and courage to fight for what she thought was right for the city. A recent court decision awarded substantial costs against SOR and now they await an appeal. Joan is fighting it because such a decision has the potential to dilute the principles of democracy. We’ll be watching keenly to see how this pans out for Joan and her group.
It would be an understatement to say that Novocastrian country star and radio host Catherine Britt has had a rollercoaster year. In May, she released her 6th and most impressive album Boneshaker. Also in May, Catherine learnt she had breast cancer. Despite undergoing grueling rounds of chemo-therapy, she has had the courage to share her story, urging women to be vigilant. Boneshaker was then nominated for an ARIA Award. On October 17, she married her fiancé James Beverly. She posted on social media, ‘‘ I have continued since my diagnosis to get on with my life and career as best I can and have scheduled my treatment around all future tour dates and commitments so I will still see you all out on the road!’’ Inspiring stuff from an extraordinary Novocastrian. We’re sure the entire region supports you.
It’s not often you see someone leave a high profile/high paying job because of principle. In August this year, Hunter Development Corporation chairman Paul Broad resigned because of a ‘‘massive shift in power from Newcastle to Macquarie Street’’ and facets of the government’s city revitalisation plans that he considered as “shortcomings”. Mr. Broad felt that, given the city’s tendency to “self-destruct when anyone says anything new”, the government felt that we needed more direction and guidance and, consequently, have allowed “the big bureaucracies to dominate’’. As a result of Mr. Broad’s controversial departure and very public comments, the department in charge of the city’s planning, UrbanGrowth, has become more involved in public consultation and now shares more information with the city’s residents. It’s a big price to pay, but thanks Paul Broad.
For those living under a rock, Joanne McCarthy is the Herald journalist who relentlessly pursued the stories relating to historical sex abuse in the churches. She has had to endure all types of pressures and make serious sacrifices to uncover this abhorrence. Her persistence in what became the Shine The Light campaign was ultimately instrumental in Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s decision to establish a Royal Commission into institutional sex abuse. In her “very final moments” as Prime Minister, Gillard wrote a letter to McCarthy that read in part ‘‘thanks in large measure to your persistence and courage, the federal Royal Commission will bring truth and healing to the victims of horrendous abuse and betrayal,’’ In 2015, McCarthy deservedly won Australian journalism’s most prestigious award, the Gold Walkley. A remarkable year for a remarkable Novocastrian.
One of Newcastle’s favourite broadcasters, Carol Duncan felt the knife of the ABC cuts in 2015 and Novocastrians were absolutely gutted. When the Newcastle Herald asked, “Should Carol Duncan’s show be spared the cuts to 1233 ABC Newcastle radio?”, over 70% of respondents said, yes. In a piece published for The Hoopla Carol wrote, “I found myself acting as the public face of the job cuts – I’m actually quite shy, so the experience was interesting, to say the least. Hundreds of people gathered at my workplace to express their outrage at the cuts to ABC Newcastle. It was extraordinary to be swamped with flowers, emails, phone calls and hugs from these people – my community.”
Novocastrian born artist, Daniel Johns made his biggest step out of Silverchair’s shadow in 2015, with the release of his album Talk. While Daniel has released many times in collaboration with other artists since Silverchair announced their ‘indefinite hibernation’, this stand alone solo album was a bold departure from everything else that has come before it. And we loved every moment of it. Speaking about the lead single, ‘Aerial Love’ to Triple J, Daniel said; “I remember when me and Joel [Little] were doing that track, we were up at my house and working on it and as soon as we had it about 70% of the way there I just thought that would be a really great first single in that it was a reset button. I don’t think it’s necessarily the biggest commercial smash hit or whatever but I think it’s a palate cleanser; a little lime and mango sorbet.”
BRITTNEY LEE SAUNDERS (YOUTUBER)
Local YouTube content creator, Brittney Lee Saunders cemented her ‘internet fame’ in 2015 as more and more people logged on to the video sharing site to watch her makeup videos, comedy skits, rants, singing covers, Q&A’s and lifestyle vlogs. Her channel beautybybrittneyx, now has over 630,000 subscribers and her videos have been viewed almost 45,000,000 times. 2015 also saw Brittney take on the world of pop music with the release of her single, Set Fire To the Stars. While it has to be said that most, if not all, the reviews for Set Fire To the Stars have been negative, you have to dip your hat to someone who can grab that much attention online.
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