This comment was posted on this paper’s website (www.manningcommunity news.com)
in response to last month’s article “Whither Wingham”)
TO THE EDITOR
It’s easy to criticise but really what have you done personally to contribute to our town?
It seems to me not much.
Certainly your OAM is not for any Wingham community contribution.”
This was my reply to the anonymous “Kath” Or was it Simon?
I’m sorry I don’t know who you are, or your name. But I’d like to know how “local” you are.
While I appreciate feedback from readers, your rather spiteful message makes me wonder, what did you hope to achieve by sending something so nasty? You are obviously a friend and or supporter of the Chamber of Commerce, so good on you for that.
But if you care about Wingham, you should be balanced and fair minded enough to recognise that the town has serious problems. We need funding, we need clever ideas, and people willing to be co-operative and supportive. Not just in it to promote themselves. We need to come together and share ideas and support everyone, not just mates.
You hurtfully ask me what have I ever done for Wingham?
Well . . .
I was born in Wingham. So were my father and my mother. My grandmother was an active participant in the Red Cross, the CWA, theatrical productions, and volunteered in many groups and organisations.
My grandfather was a respected and loved member of Wingham who was Manager of the wonderful old Goods Shed at Wingham Station. My grandfather went to the Somme and Fromelles to fight for Wingham.
My father left Wingham to go and fight and be a POW in Changi.
My uncle, after starting a career at the Wingham Chronicle, became an ABC Sydney Foreign Correspondent and reported from Vietnam, among many other dangerous assignments. He started the cadet training program at ABC TV and discovered and nurtured talent like Stan Grant, Aaron Pederson and Barbara McCarthy (now Senator Malarndirri in the NT). He encouraged me to go into Journalism to “speak truth to power” and was a fine mentor when I started novel writing. One of my most successful novels, “The Valley” is set in a fictional Wingham.
My mother, educated at Wingham Brush School, became Australia’s first female TV/film director and paid homage to Wingham in many ways.
Members of my family still live in the house my grandfather built in Wingham. My Uncle Ron’s paintings can still be seen in public here.
I have been bringing journalists, film crews and VIPs to Wingham for forty years. I speak about Wingham every time I am interviewed in the media.
Manning Community News
And now I publish this paper to let people know what is going on and I have no financial investors or advertisers dictating to me, I am not intimidated by threats from councillors, or others. I believe in the freedom of our press. I have been an honest journalist for thirty plus years.
I fund, write and produce The Manning Community News by myself, from my own pocket, as a public service, which, frankly, I can ill afford. But there are some of us, who DO care and Do things they believe in and DO call out the ills and needs and rights and wrongs of a community.
That’s what I do for Wingham and our surrounding communities.
And incidentally, my Order of Australia is an AM. ( A notch above an OAM.)
I would be happy to hear your thoughts and ideas and dreams for the town I love if you have fresh, clever, innovative ideas. We are, I assume, working for the same end – to make Wingham, like other towns in our area, a better place to live and work, and help those who do contribute their efforts to the town.
Attacking me with hurtful remarks does not achieve anything for us all.
And thinking further, after writing this to my anonymous correspondent, (who never replied) I thought further. Especially after another exchange of correspondence over the future of Wingham with a gentleman who wrote –
“. . . Wingham is a dying town, as is Taree and many other coastal towns (apart from Coffs Harbour – for the interim). Once bypasses were instigated many coastal towns started experiencing downturns both economically and residentially, a by-product of this is the small satellite towns and villages suffering a similar fate.
I fear Wingham, as a rustic town is heading that way, of course the drought doesn’t help, (and they will only be more frequent).
I am sure you have noticed there seems to be more and more spaces and shopfronts for lease in the town.
I do agree the local chamber seems to be an exercise in futility with a sprinkling of ego-mania. . . . but I do wish you success in your efforts.”
I felt despondent after reading this. But my fighting spirit has resurfaced and I do not believe Wingham will wither on the vine, not if some of us can help it.
Frankly I think we need a talented group not directly associated with the constrictions of council, who can attract a group of smart thinkers with experience to go to the public at large and run ideas up the flagpole for input. And then present to Council a well constructed, clever, creative and budgeted plan.
Council will no doubt say they are planning a plan… which will be a bureaucratic formula based on scanty input that does not necessarily meet “outside the box” thinking and possibilities.
It has to be horses for courses. The Tuncurry Makeover, is a modest and cheerful homespun community effort, steps above the planter boxes, markers and murals of Wingham’s costly but insignificant recent dress-up.
We can do better, and maintain, repair and boost our heritage raison d’etre.
So if you have ideas you’d like to share, let us know.