Chamber in for shake-up


WATCH out Mullumbimby, there's another visionary in town.

Since last Wednesday, Beverly Norton has been president of the chamber of commerce. And she has plans, big plans.

Beverly grew up in Sydney's west. At age 17, she opened a bridal shop in Blacktown.

Twenty-four years later, she became the CEO of the organisation she'd been a member of for 24 years, the Blacktown Chamber of Commerce, and in five years she increased its membership from 30 to 780.

Beverly wants to rev things up for Mullumbimby businesses and plans to pound the pavement to drum up interest.

Only in Beverly's case, she'll be gliding by on her motorised scooter, rather than hoofing it with her friend and new chamber of commerce secretary, Ruth Forsythe.

In 2000, Beverly contracted Sjogren's Neuropathy, a fancy name for a crippling disease that should have cost her life.

She moved to Mullumbimby to be near her daughter Sharon Hurley two years ago, her doctors fully expecting her to see out her days in semi-paralysed limbo.

Instead, Beverly has created TASSA, The Australian Sjogren's Syndrome Association, and from an old house in Tincogan Street she and her league of volunteers rebuild discarded government computers and sell them to people on health care cards for $325.

TASSA has also become Mullumbimby's Visitor Information Centre. It's on the verandah at the moment, but that'll change as funds become available, said Beverly.

TASSA also offers home loans, insurance, Internet services and small business support.

"When I was in recovery I started scanning the Internet for government grants for community organisations, to keep my brain active," Beverly said.

"This organisation has built from there."

As well as TASSA's future, Beverly's eyes are well and truly focused on Mullumbimby's.

"We'll be leaving no business unturned and what businesses we don't have here in town, we'll be encouraging to come and set up," she said.

"Everyone's a business these days, including schools and community organisations.

"There's no reason why all organisations in this town shouldn't be members of the chamber of commerce."

Anyone interested in lessening Beverly's and Ruth's pavement pounding can phone 6684 6555.

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