Daniel O?Brien celebrates after graduating from Southern Cross University with financial help from his mentor, Barry Edmonds
Daniel O?Brien celebrates after graduating from Southern Cross University with financial help from his mentor, Barry Edmonds

BARRY?S $16,000 GIFT TO FUTURE

By RENEE REDMOND

BARRY EDMONDS wants local young talent to stay on the Northern Rivers ? even if it means paying for their tertiary education.

The owner of Farmer Charlies in Lismore and Ballina started offering a scholarship program about four years ago to students leaving school.

On Saturday, the first of his scholarship holders, Daniel O'Brien, graduated with a degree in business management.

Now, Daniel will step into a full-time management role at Farmer Charlies at Ballina.

"All our talent is being lost to the big cities ? the scholarship is about encouraging them to stay here," Mr Edmonds said.

Daniel, 22, formerly of Trinity Catholic College, said he started work at Farmer Charlies at 16 and was offered the scholarship at the end of Year 12.

"Barry said he'd pay for my course and text books so I wouldn't graduate with a huge HECS debt," he said.

"It works out at over $16,000."

Daniel was given a full-time job at the business for the duration of his course, taking time off for study and exams.

"Because I was living at home I was able to save for a house deposit and I bought my first house in Lismore two years ago." he said.

"I'm working towards a senior management position in the company."

Daniel said that if it wasn't for the scholarship, he would probably have moved to Brisbane or Sydney in search of employment.

"It's great to be able to live close to my family and friends and be graduating with a job," he said.

Barry said that to be eligible for a scholarship, students needed to be active in the community, play sport for a local team and have a good academic ability.

"The whole program is designed for them to develop community skills and end up a business leader in the community," he said.

Barry encouraged other businesses to take on the scholarship initiative to keep local kids in town.

"It gives them a start. There's a terrible drain of talent in the area because the kids can't get work here," he said. "The advantage of the scholarship is you end up with very dedicated employees who'll work hard for you."



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