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Grafton News

Lady Luck has muso David singing new tune

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Lady Luck has muso David singing new tune

 By Tim Howard

 There haven’t been a lot of happy stories to come out of the floods that ravaged the Northern Rivers in the past year, but Lismore musician David Birch has one.

It does come with a qualifier. David lost most of his belongings when the February 28 floods hit Lismore and his move to Grafton has separated him from the friends he made in the region over 20+ years of living and performing.

But on the whole he feels like he has been extraordinarily lucky.

Seven months on from that dreadful Monday he finds himself living in a three-room flat in Grafton, with barely any possessions, no car and his existence turned upside down, but thinking life is looking up.

“I can’t explain how I got here,” he said. “At some stage I filled out a lot of forms and this opportunity came up to relocate to Grafton. So I took it.”

David said like the way the floodwater rose in his rented room in a Lismore pub, things happened fast.

“It came up so fast,” he said of his experience in the flood. “It was so quick you could watch it rise minute by minute.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, then suddenly there was this guy in a tinny outside telling us to get in.”

His rescuer took him to the gymnasium at Southern Cross University, where he was allocated a couple of metres floorspace along with about 300 other people.

David was forced to leave most of his clothes, his bedding and his extensive music collection to the floodwater, but he did grab his most treasured possession.

“I couldn’t take much, but I made sure I had my guitar,” he said.

“As long as I have my guitar, I’ll be all right. I can always get out on the street and busk and get enough money to buy myself a feed.”

For a musician who once fronted The Nightcap Band and put out a CD of his songs, Byron Journey, in the 1990s, busking on the streets was a distant memory.

“I can remember busking on the streets outside Woolworths in Kings Cross, but that was a long time ago,” he said.

Even longer ago, David and his family moved to Australia from Somerset, the home of cider.

“I was 14. We were living in a little village near Bristol, called Uphill,” he said. “My life’s been uphill all the way, you could say.”

David said he still feels traumatised by the floods, but it doesn’t compare to what some people experienced.

“It affected people in different ways,” he said. “I met a woman who had lost her home and was staying at university gym with her five-year-old son.

“The little boy refused to get into the shower. Something about the sound of falling water made him think it would flood again and he would freak out.

“That’s trauma. That’s the sort of things people are dealing with in Lismore now.”

David said what he loved about coming to Grafton was how “normal” people were.

“To be fair I’m probably still traumatised myself,” he said. “But it’s so nice when you go out for a walk – and because I don’t have a car I that happens a lot – you say hello and people smile and say hello.

“If you get into a conversation you talk about anything, not going over and over what happened in the flood and how bad everything is.

“And don’t get me wrong, everything is bad, absolutely terrible. But if you’re lucky enough to be out of it, the relief is fantastic.”

David said he was appalled at the number of people still left homeless after the floods.

“When you’ve got somewhere permanent to stay it’s such a relief. I can only feel for all those people who are still homeless.

“The response has been way too slow. When you think there are still people living in tents and their cars after the fires a few years ago, it makes you angry.”

David said when he got out the recovery was underway, but that was also stressful.

“The army was there, with bulldozers and backhoes clearing out the streets,” he said.

“Everyone’s belongings were just piled up in the streets to be carted away to the rubbish dump.

“There were fridges and industrial gas canisters floating around in the water. It was a torrid time.”

But David said now his walks, which ironically often take him to the banks of the Clarence River in Grafton, where we met at the weekend, were calming.

“Look at this scene,” he said. “It’s so peaceful. Grafton has such wide streets, I call them avenues.

“It just feels so far removed from where I’ve just come from.

“I have somewhere where my sister can come and visit me when she comes in a little while.”

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Entertainment

Free healthy lifestyle program for families in Tweed, Coraki and Grafton

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Go4Fun Free healthy lifestyle program for families in Tweed, Coraki and Grafton

Free healthy lifestyle program for families in Tweed, Coraki and Grafton

 

Families in NSW can access support to build healthy habits together, plus tips and assistance with getting active, healthy eating and wellbeing.

Go4Fun is a free 10-week after school program for children aged 7-13 and their families, which aims to support their health and wellbeing.

Parents and carers can now enrol their primary school aged children in the Term 2 programs in Tweed, Grafton and Coraki.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) Acting Director of Integrated Care and Allied Health Services, Kathryn Watson said the program is for kids and their families who want to get healthier together.

“For many families, the focus is on just getting by on a day-to-day basis, and many don’t have the money to invest in healthy lifestyle programs,” Ms Watson said.

“We know many parents can be overwhelmed by the amount of healthy lifestyle information available. Go4Fun helps by providing easy tips to make healthy changes and involves parents, carers and children in activities to help put these into practice.

“This free program allows families to have the chance to learn healthy habits, and have fun together.”

The program includes games, activities, prizes and a supermarket tour. It also helps families and children to connect with others in their local area.

“Families love that the program is free and that it helps their child’s wellbeing, including their sleep. It creates a space to connect and build relationships as a family,” Ms Watson said.

“For families who are not in the Tweed, Grafton or Coraki areas, the Go4Fun online program is always an option.”

Parents and carers can sign up to the program directly, and health professionals and GPs can also refer their patients.

Places are available for Term 2 in the following locations:

  • CORAKI
    Aboriginal Go4Fun
    Tuesdays 4pm-6pm, starting 30 April
    Location: Coraki Youth Hall, 75 Bridge St, Coraki NSW 2471
    To register for the Coraki program, call Coraki Campbell HealthOne on (02) 6683 9000
  • GRAFTON
    Go4Fun
    Tuesdays 4pm-6pm, starting 30 April
    Location: PCYC, 300 Powell Street, Grafton NSW 2460
  • TWEED
    Go4Fun
    Wednesdays 4pm-6pm, starting 1 May
    Location: Banora Point Community Centre, Cnr Leisure Dr, Woodlands Dr, Banora Point NSW 2486

For more information and to register your child, call 1800 780 900, visit here.

 

For more entertainment news, click here.

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Grafton News

Big River Group Completes $22 Million Upgrade to Grafton Timber Factory

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John Lorente, CEO of Big River Group

Big River Group Completes $22 Million Upgrade to Grafton Timber Factory

 

Big River Group, a renowned figure in the diversified manufacturing and distribution of timber and building products, proudly announces the completion of a significant upgrade to its Grafton timber factory. This $22 million project, bolstered by support from the Australian and New South Wales (NSW) Governments under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, marks a significant stride in the sustainable manufacturing of specialty technical timber products, thereby enhancing supply to the construction industry across NSW.

With roots dating back over a century in Grafton, Big River Group has traversed through three generations of the Pidcock family’s ownership before transitioning into a public entity listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:BRI) in May 2017. This transition symbolises a century-long dedication and expansion within the region, now spanning operations across 26 sites in Australia and New Zealand.

The official opening of the Grafton operation today underscores the pivotal role of regional development and sustainable practices within the industry. It underscores the government’s steadfast commitment to bolstering industries crucial for recovery and growth in areas affected by bushfires, while promoting advancements in sustainable timber manufacturing and supply.

The upgrade, featuring the installation of state-of-the-art machinery, is poised to significantly augment Big River’s output. This enhancement equips Big River to supply an unprecedented volume of timber products throughout NSW each year, fostering growth in local and regional economies.

John Lorente, CEO of Big River Group, expresses his enthusiasm for the project’s culmination, stating, “This upgrade signifies not merely an expansion of our operational capacity, but a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the future of the timber industry in NSW. With the backing of the Forestry Recovery Development Fund Program, we are positioned to make a profound impact on the availability of high-quality timber products, while also securing and creating jobs locally, regionally, and nationally.”

The upgrade is expected to generate 20 new jobs in Grafton, supplementing Big River’s existing local workforce and its 610 employees nationwide. This development underscores Big River’s enduring commitment to nurturing local talent through trainee and apprenticeship programs, and bolstering local businesses financially through logistics, warehousing, engineering supplies, and contracting services.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management, Murray Watt, emphasises the government’s role in facilitating these critical developments, noting, “Big River Group’s Wagga Wagga plantation bore the brunt of the Black Summer Bushfires, but with substantial investment from both levels of Government, new machinery and equipment have been installed in the factory in Grafton, delivering a significant boost to the local community.”

Minister for Regional NSW, Tara Moriarty, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the project’s significance for local and regional communities. “Big River Group’s Grafton timber factory is experiencing robust growth, and it’s gratifying to see these upgrades support them in delivering high-quality timber products to the construction industry for years to come.”

Beyond supplying essential building products for the construction industry, Big River’s operations offer an array of decorative and architectural products, many of which are proudly manufactured in Grafton. This fusion of functionality and aesthetics, supported by a century-long legacy and a forward-looking ethos, positions Big River as a cornerstone in sustaining the architectural integrity and development of NSW, Australia, and New Zealand.

“As we unveil the latest upgrade to our Grafton facility, we perpetuate a tradition of excellence established over 100 years ago,” asserts John Lorente. “This project epitomizes more than just an expansion; it’s a tangible manifestation of our dedication to innovation, sustainability, and investment in the growth of our workforce. By augmenting our capacity to supply high-value timber products and investing in our team’s development, we uphold our century-long legacy and reinforce our commitment to ensuring a sustainable future for the timber industry in Australia.”

“We are immensely grateful for the support extended by both the Australian and NSW State Governments through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund,” John From Big River Group concludes, expressing profound gratitude for the government’s invaluable support.

 

For more local Grafton news, click here.

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Grafton News

Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

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Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

 

The Westlawn Finance and Insurance Charity Golf Day, held recently in Grafton, has raised $18,000 to help purchase a Telehealth Enable Cart and a portable Nitrous Oxide Machine for the Children’s Ward at Grafton Base Hospital.

Telehealth Enable Carts give doctors and nurses a fully mobile, ultra-high quality and secure telehealth solution that can be wheeled to any bed in the children’s ward, nursery or emergency department.

A Portable Nitrous Oxide Machine assists with light sedation when a medical procedure is required for our paediatric patients.

Our Kids is a self-funded trust whose auspice is the Northern NSW Local Health District. Our Kids aims to improve the health services for children in the Northern Rivers area.

Our Kids raises awareness and vital funds through local events and donations. With the funds raised, Our Kids works with the local medical team to purchase lifesaving medical equipment for children receiving care in hospitals in the Northern Rivers. This can include the Children’s Wards, Special Care Nursery and emergency departments in local hospitals.

Westlawn Finance lending a hand to Our Kids in Grafton

Dr Andrew Terrey, Geoff Scofield, Amanda Fryer and Mark Dougherty

Our Kids also issues annual Community Grants for families or organisations caring for children with special needs. These grants can be used to purchase equipment, medicine, and therapeutic items to help the children in their care.

Thanks to the generosity of local bequests, Our Kids has been able to set up educational funds for Continuous Education Scholarships for midwives, paediatric nurses, and allied health staff who work in our local hospitals.

“Thank you to Geoff Schofield, Mark Dougherty and the Westlawn Finance and Insurance team for organising such a magnificent day for Grafton and Our Kids,” Rebekka Battista, Our Kids Fundraising Coordinator, said.

“The telehealth enable cart and portable nitrous oxide machine will be a great addition to Grafton Base Hospital.”

If you would like to help Grafton Base Hospital, Children’s Ward and Special Care Nursery, please get in touch with Our Kids on info@ourkids.org.au.

 

For more health news, click here.

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