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Glen Innes News

SPIRITS NOT DAMPENED BY 2024 AUSTRALIAN CELTIC FESTIVAL’S UNPRECEDENTED WET WEATHER DISRUPTIONS

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The 2024 Australian Celtic Festival
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SPIRITS NOT DAMPENED BY 2024 AUSTRALIAN CELTIC FESTIVAL’S UNPRECEDENTED WET WEATHER DISRUPTIONS

 

The 2024 Australian Celtic Festival was a remarkable success, drawing in approximately 5,000 people to Glen Innes Highlands for the weekend, despite the challenging wet weather conditions that forced event organisers into Plan B mode on the final day of festivities.

A record number of festival goers flocked to the Australian Standing Stones National Celtic Monument on Saturday to enjoy a Celtic celebration like no other. The event featured a jam-packed program of attractions and entertainment with pleasant weather conditions until the rain set in that afternoon.

Following more rain overnight, a decision was made to assess Sunday’s events and relocate part of the program’s entertainment and ceremonies to other venues, ensuring the show could go on.

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Local business Glen Innes Bus Services played a key part in ensuring continued support for the stalls that remained trading at the festival grounds that day, kindly transporting ticket holders from various locations around Glen Innes to the Standing Stones.

The festival organisers expressed their gratitude for the understanding and flexibility demonstrated by vendors, performers, contractors, and patrons impacted by the change in plans due to the unfavourable weather conditions.

Given the circumstances, the unprecedented spike in the festival’s Saturday attendee numbers was somewhat of a relief.

Glen Innes Severn Council Mayor Rob Banham said Council is delighted with record attendance at the 2024 Australian Celtic Festival.

“Spirits were not dampened by the challenging weather at the 2024 Australian Celtic Festival. Despite the rain, the resilience of our town and the unwavering support from businesses and attendees truly shone through, making this festival a memorable success,” Cr Banham said.

Glen Innes Severn Council Coordinator of Economic Development and Tourism Rhonda Bombell said Council has been inundated with positive feedback following the festival.

“Council has received many congratulations from businesses and attendees who empathise with the difficult decisions and the speed in which alternative arrangements were made, highlighting our town’s resilience and commitment from businesses and Council to the festival,” Ms Bombell said.

Council extends its sincere thanks to The Glen Innes Services Club and its dedicated staff, Pinknoize Audio and the talented performers of the festival for their invaluable support of the revised entertainment program.

To help shape future events, Glen Innes Severn Council is asking for anyone who attended the festival to partake in a short 5-minute online feedback survey.

The 2025 Australian Celtic Festival and fringe events will take place 1-4 May 2025, with tickets on sale from 3 March. Keen festivalgoers are already booking their accommodation in advance for the festival’s 33rd year, which will highlight the Celtic nations of Brittany, Cornwall & Wales.

 

For more Glen Innes News, click here.

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Alstonville News

Northern Rivers Koala Hospital needs funding: Urgent appeal for support

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A koala being treated at the Northern Rivers Koala Hospital in Lismore
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Northern Rivers Koala Hospital needs funding: Urgent appeal for support

 

By Sarah Waters

Koalas are becoming an increasingly rare sight in NSW and the one organisation that is dedicated solely to their care in the Northern Rivers is desperately trying to keep operating as normal.

The Northern Rivers Koala Hospital, operated by Friends of the Koala, has made an urgent plea for financial support.

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A decline in donations and available funding has threatened the hospital’s ability to operate effectively.

The hospital is specifically designed for the medical treatment of koalas and is the only wildlife hospital in NSW licensed to vaccinate all treated koalas against Chlamydia – the number one cause of death for koalas in the Northern Rivers.

General manager of Friends of the Koala Silva Everaers said more than 350 Koalas are treated at the hospital each year.

“From July last year we’ve seen a 20 per cent increase in koalas coming in, versus the year before,” Ms Everaers said.

“It will continue to increase as the threats to koalas are increasing with climate change, natural disasters, habitat being destroyed causing more koalas on the road, which leads to car hits, dog attacks and more diseases due to stress.

“So that’s obviously concerning, and it has been really, really busy for our volunteers rescuing and caring for them,” she said.

The Northern Rivers Koala Hospital was formed in 2019 and is part of the wider Friends of the Koala (FOK) organisation.

The FOK organisation receives government grants for certain projects including a recent grant to vaccinate 300 koalas against chlamydia.

But no government money is received for the operational cost of the koala hospital.

General Manager of Friends of the Koala and Northern Rivers Koala Hospital Silva Everaers

General Manager of Friends of the Koala Silva Everaers

Half a million dollars needs to be raised by Friends of the Koala each year to cover the hospital’s annual operating expenses.

It is set up with diagnostic and treatment tools including ultrasounds, x-rays, a blood bank, as well as surgical and pathology equipment to provide specialised 24/7 veterinary care to koalas.

Until more funds become available the hospital may not be able to continue in its current capacity.

Ms Everaers said the priority was to keep the hospital funded and veterinary staff paid.

“That really is where the research and the magic happens,” she said.

“We work with over 300 volunteers, who do an absolutely incredible job rescuing and rehabilitating the koalas treated in our hospital, and because of that we are able to keep operational costs really, really low.

“But we can’t do it without financial support, in the end, there’s medicine, veterinary staff, the equipment we need, research facilities – it’s not free.”

Friends of the Koala have set up a special donation drive, appealing to the public’s generosity to help keep the hospital in operation and maintain their high standards of care.

Anyone with a heart for wildlife, including business owners and philanthropists, can become a ‘Friend of the Northern Rivers Koala Hospital’ at: friendsofthekoala.org or support by donating to the organisation.

Friends of the Koala are a grassroots organisation with more than 35 years of experience working on critical, on-the-ground activities to conserve habitat and protect koalas individually and as a species.

It originated as a charity focused on planting trees but has evolved into a multifaceted organisation that also provides 24/7 koala rescue, medical treatment, research, advocacy and community education.

Friends of the Koala has successfully rehabilitated and released over 2000 koalas back into the wild since its inception.

The Northern Rivers is home to one of the last significant, genetically diverse koala populations.

 

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Glen Innes News

COUNCILLOR LARA GRESHAM RESIGNS FROM COUNCIL

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Councillor Lara Gresham
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COUNCILLOR LARA GRESHAM RESIGNS FROM COUNCIL

 

Councillor Lara Gresham has announced her resignation from Glen Innes Severn Council, effective Thursday, 9 May 2024, after nearly two and a half years in the role. Cr Gresham is stepping down due to personal reasons, marking the conclusion of her tenure during which she actively represented the interests of the community.

Glen Innes Severn Council Mayor Rob Banham thanked Cr Gresham for her hard work and dedication to the Glen Innes Severn community.

“Councillor Gresham has been a valued member of Glen Innes Severn Council, bringing pragmatic thinking and a rural perspective to our discussions,” Cr Banham said.

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“Lara’s departure leaves a gap in our council. We wish her well in her future endeavours and thank her for her service.”

Glen Innes Severn Council General Manager Bernard Smith also acknowledged Cr Gresham’s contributions and approach to her role.

“Councillor Gresham has been a dedicated councillor, consistently demonstrating a strong commitment to her responsibilities,” Mr Smith said.

“She is one of the most conscientious councillors I have worked with and has been a staunch advocate for our community. Lara’s professionalism and collaborative approach have been appreciated by our staff, and her departure will leave a notable gap within our council.”

Council will be requesting that, considering the upcoming local government election in September 2024, the position remain unfilled until after the election.

 

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Glen Innes News

A blessed 100 years for Dympna

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Dympna and family celebrating 100 years
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A blessed 100 years for Dympna

 

By Samantha Elley

Late last month a very special lady celebrated 100 years on this earth and 74 of her family, friends and former students gathered to enjoy the day with her.

Dympna Agnes Sheehy (nee Ryall) was born of Irish heritage in Glen Innes in 1924 and it was where she grew up on the family sheep station. The Great War was over and Australia was experiencing a resurgence economically and socially.

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For Dympna, although into her second century, has a good memory for the early years.

“(My first memory) was sitting on my father’s knee,” she said.

“It was before I could read as I remember saying ‘what’s that?’.

“I learnt to read all the capital letters and I could read before I went to school.”

In 1937 Dympna passed the Armidale Roman Catholic Diocesan Examinations with the highest marks in the whole diocese for history and geography. For this she received the Gold Medal Award.

With a bright mind and a deep faith, Dympna entered the convent to become a Sister of Mercy in 1940 after she left school.

Two years later she took her final vows and was professed as Sister Mary Gemma.

Throughout her time in the convent, Sister Mary Gemma taught at a number of different primary schools around Grafton, Macksville, Yamba and Kyogle and even in Sydney.

“I taught any subject, mainly sixth class,” she said.

“Mainly in (St Brigids) Kyogle, but I taught in St Michael’s in Sydney and South Grafton.”

The impression she made on her students has stayed strong throughout the years with some of them attending her 100 year celebrations, including a priest and a QC.

The times were changing for the education system and when the government started funding Catholic schools, the new policy required all teachers to be tertiary qualified.

Dympna (left) as a school girl

Dympna (left) as a school girl

“Dympna was unable to continue in her preferred teaching role,” said niece Gemma Duffy.

Dympna made the hard decision to leave the convent and find ways to continue her vocation in the community..

“It was difficult to enter (the convent) and it was difficult to come out,” Dympna said with emotion.

It was around this time her best friend wanted to go to Lourdes to dip in the water and Dympna went with her and her husband for three months.

Sadly, soon after their return, the friend passed away and Dympna was there to help her friend’s husband, John Sheehy through his grief.

John eventually asked Dympna to marry him and so began a new chapter in her life.

Dympna has travelled all around the world, including Egypt with an exciting cruise down the Nile, traversing America in a Winnebago, Vietnam, Italy, New Zealand, Ireland, to visit the house where her mother had lived, and even to Israel.

“I wanted to put my feet in the Jordan River,” she laughed.

Ms Duffy said the many gifts Dympna received for her birthday were very thoughtful, including a special homemade Irish whiskey concoction made with local honey.

“The message on the bottle said, ‘take a tablespoon every night and when you run out I’ll get a new prescription made up’,” Ms Duffy said.

“That was (from) her best friend’s daughter.”

Dympna also received cards from the King and Queen, Governor General, the Prime Minister and a most special blessing from Pope Francis himself.

Another thoughtful gift was a framed blackboard with the names from all her students at St Bridgid’s who wanted to wish her many happy returns.

Dympna and her father

Dympna and her father

There were memories from her students of Sister Gemma as a football coach, hitching up her skirts to show the kids how to kick a ball, being remembered as the first nun to drive a car and her willingness to always catch up with her students long after they had left primary school.

“One of her nicknames in the convent was ‘Tigger’,” said Ms Duffy

“Because she always landed on her feet.”

Dympna puts her ability to face life’s challenges in the faith she has in God.

“God’s looked after me,” she said.

Her love of life has been expressed in her love of people and her interest in sport and technology.

“Dympna loved playing golf, tennis, and croquet ” said Ms Duffy

“She is very competitive.”

When her injuries meant she could no longer play active sports, Dympna developed a love of cards and board games, especially rummicub and mahjong.

Dympna will also admit to playing hockey and basketball and those year six football games.

Dympna is well-skilled in the internet and an avid iPhone user as well as a Facebook regular.

“She still enjoys keeping in touch with her grand nieces and nephews who are now spread around the world,” said Ms Duffy.

“She always provides advice or humour, or just a smiley face when we need it.

“She loves Irish jokes and even now can recite one at the drop of a hat.”

Dympna and family celebrating 100 years

Dympna and family celebrating 100 years

Dympna also has a good set of green thumbs on her.

“She was teaching the children how to garden when she worked at the Cowper orphanage,” said Ms Duffy

“She got them all into the garden introduced them to gardening.  The abundant produce meant they rarely had to buy vegetables and the children had fun as they learned their new skills .”

After her husband’s death, Dympna moved to Ballina. She continued working in the Parish community, running a Christian meditation group, and taking a keen interest in the social justice group with special concern for refugees and the homeless.

When asked the inevitable question, of what she attributes to her longevity, Dympna has three main tips.

“Good genes, a healthy lifestyle and my faith, that would be first,” she said.

“God’s always come to my assistance.”

The tipple of Baileys Irish Cream and an episode of Home and Away each night could be added to that list as well.

An Irish joke from Dympna

Mary had died and Paddy, her husband was in the pub with Mick, his friend.

Mick asked, ‘How are you getting on without Mary? You must be lonely.’

‘Oh no,’ Paddy said, ‘I bought meself a goat.’

Mick said, ‘A goat? What will you do about the smell?’

‘Oh, she’ll have to put up with it.’ Paddy replied.

 

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