SOME OF OUR BEST: The Lismore region is filled with some pretty amazing and influential people.
SOME OF OUR BEST: The Lismore region is filled with some pretty amazing and influential people. Marc Stapelberg

LOCAL LEGENDS: 10 of Lismore's most renowned women

THE Lismore region is filled with some pretty amazing and influential women.

From activists fighting for change to those who are doing their bit to make life a little bit better for Lismore and surrounds residents, here are some wonderful women we thought deserved a shout out for their contributions to our local communities.

Jenny Dowell.
Jenny Dowell. Sophie Moeller

Jenny Dowell

JENNY Dowell was Lismore's mayor from 2008 to 2016.

But the end of that tenure didn't see her become any less involved in the local community.

She was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2017 for her services to the Lismore community and to local government.

Mrs Dowell has been a champion for Lismore's LGBTIQ community and its creative arts and her efforts were instrumental in securing a new art gallery for the city.

She's currently a Mayors Mentor for Local Government NSW and has remained a significant voice for the region, interviewing Paralympic gold medallist Kurt Fearnley on stage last June and appearing as part of a local panel when the ABC's Q&A program visited Lismore a year ago. (AUG 2018)

A hotel in Lismore's sister city, Eau Claire in Wisconsin in the United States, has a suite named after her and she's been involved with Lismore Theatre Company.

She has been instrumental in encouraging other women to step up into politics, and has been a great ambassador.

Mieke Bell (centre) with Lindsay Parrish and Barney Reeds.
Mieke Bell (centre) with Lindsay Parrish and Barney Reeds. Sophie Moeller

Mieke Bell

WHETHER it's her work with the Lismore Soup Kitchen or as part of the blueberry industry, there's plenty of sweet stuff in Mieke Bell's life.

Ms Bell's philanthropic family have been huge supporters of the Lismore community for decades and have also invested millions to help bolster health and education systems in Northern Uganda.

As president of the Lismore Soup Kitchen, which runs out of the Winsome Hotel, Ms Bell has helped countless members of the local community.

The organisation has offered a festive feast for those in need on Christmas Day for about three decades and continued making meals available to residents as volunteers got the service back on its feet after the destructive 2017 flood.

She and husband, Ridley, own Mountain Blue Farms and she personally named their highly acclaimed blueberry variety, Eureka.

Rebekka Battista.
Rebekka Battista. Marc Stapelberg

Rebekka Battista

THE name Rebekka Battista is synonymous with charity fundraisers, community events and - why not - good fashion choices.

But behind the smile on social pictures and the glamorous frocks worn at charitable events, there is a person with a strong sense of community, based on her solid Christian beliefs and her love for her family and the Northern Rivers.

Mrs Battista is the Our Kids fundraising coordinator, an organisation she has been working with for 16 years.

Through her fundraising efforts, Our Kids has purchased so far $1.8 million worth of equipment, including new technology for the special care nursery, children's ward, emergency theatres at Lismore Base Hospital, and hospitals in Ballina, Byron Bay, Casino, Kyogle, and even Grafton and Tweed.

Every year, 10,000 children can go through Lismore Base Hospital, with 2000 of them looked after at the children's ward, so the reach of her work runs across the region.

Jyllie Jackson.
Jyllie Jackson. Marc Stapelberg

Jyllie Jackson

TWENTY-FIVE years ago, leading lantern lady Jyllie Jackson had a vision for a festival that would light Lismore's streets with creativity, community spirit and hope.

That vision manifested into Lismore's biggest volunteer-run community event, the Lismore Lantern Parade.

The event has continued to warm the hearts of tens of thousands of visitors who attend each year, generating an average $1.3 million for Lismore businesses.

Ms Jackson remains the creative mind behind the annual event, tirelessly fundraising, running lantern workshops and organising her team of volunteers leading up to the event in the heart of winter.

In its history, the parade has faced uncertainty, but Ms Jackson always found a way to get it back on track.

As founding director of LightnUp Inc (an independent community arts enterprise), Ms Jackson manages projects ranging from three artists to three thousand participants across both metropolitan and regional areas of Australia.

Jane Laverty.
Jane Laverty. Francis Witsenhuysen

Jane Laverty

THE regional manager for the NSW Business Chamber on the Northern Rivers, Jane Laverty, stepped into the job shortly before the 2017 floods hit the region, courtesy of ex-Cyclone Debbie.

She was one of the eight people on the Lismore Business Flood Recovery Taskforce and worked tirelessly to support local business owners, workers and staff to overcome the devastating challenges.

A highly experienced strategist with a depth of experience in economic development, stakeholder engagement, project management, marketing and business/public advocacy, Ms Laverty 'walks the talk' regarding the importance of creating jobs and investment in regional Australia.

Prior to starting with the NSW Business Chamber she worked extensively across the Northern Rivers with business and industry clients, local and state government and the not for profit sector as an independent consultant and more recently as a leader in economic development and tourism with Byron Shire Council.

The former Byron Shire Council economic development and tourism co-ordinator is known for taking an holistic approach when it comes to working with businesses in the region.

Eddie Lloyd.
Eddie Lloyd.

Eddie Lloyd

EDDIE Lloyd has been a powerful voice in the criminal justice system on the Northern Rivers.

Ms Lloyd is a Lismore City councillor - a role in which she chairs the Lismore Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee - and also a solicitor for the Aboriginal Legal Service.

She has been advocating for change that would see criminal offences that are linked with substance use disorder to be dealt with as a health, not criminal, issue.

This has included calls for a Drug Court in Lismore to offer therapeutic jurisprudence to those dealing with addiction.

She has also pushed for urgent funding to make rehabilitation services more accessible on the Northern Rivers and has highlighted the region's higher-than-average Aboriginal incarceration rates, calling for more culturally-appropriate avenues of justice.

Anna Ludvik.
Anna Ludvik. Contributed

Anna Ludvik

LISMORE'S 2018 Citizen of the Year, Anna Ludvik, is the founder of an organisation dedicated to the protection of women, children and companion animals at risk of domestic violence.

Ms Ludvik established Lucy's Project in 2013 after the stillbirth of her daughter Lucy, when she saw the need to connect the many organisations across Australia working in isolation on the issue of companion animals and domestic violence, and created the country's first peak organisation, in her own time from her home in Lismore.

Lucy's Project is now internationally recognised with chapters in most states of Australia and gives organisations as diverse as animal shelters, police, women's refuges, government organisations, peak domestic violence services and more, a space to discuss issues, tackle problems and work collaboratively.

Beth Trevan.
Beth Trevan. Sophie Moeller

Beth Trevan

BETH Trevan is a very busy woman.

Her community work has included a range of disciplines including children's health, the development of cancer prevention and working to reduce flooding in Lismore.

Earlier this year she was recognised as Lismore's Woman of the Year, which adds to her accolades.

In 2017, she teamed with fellow alumni, Keith Alcock, Ros Irwin, Tony Madden and Peter Thorpe to co-ordinate Lismore Citizens' Review of the 2017 Flood.

They knew the city's destruction had been caused, not by the rising water, but the loss of "flood memory caused by the levee keeping the threat out of sight and out of mind”.

In 2009 Mrs Trevan was recognised on the Queens Birthday Honours List has been made a member (AM) in the general division of the Order of Australia.

In the early 1980s Mrs Trevan initiated a fundraising project to raise money for a new children's ward at Lismore Base Hospital.

She has also visited Pakistan on seven occasions in a consultancy role to assist in the establishment of multidisciplinary breast clinics and guidelines for breast imaging.

Northern Rivers Knitting Nannas.
Northern Rivers Knitting Nannas. Javier Encalada

Knitting Nannas

THEY were there for Bentley, formed their own coastguard and sprinkled coal dust on their breakfast.

The Knitting Nannas are a force to be reckoned with; not only are they impressive crafters, their peaceful protests have become a big part of the fabric of the Northern Rivers.

They can often be seen with their yellow knitted creations outside politicians' offices and when there's an environmental cause to back, they'll be there.

The group formed as The Knitting Nannas Against Gas on the Northern Rivers in June, 2012. At that time, it was sparked by a growing concern for gas exploration on agricultural land.

But they've since taken a stand against other issues, including waging a war on plastic waste.

Janelle Saffin (left) with Art Beavis.
Janelle Saffin (left) with Art Beavis.

Janelle Saffin

WITH a long history in politics, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has seen it all over the years and has helped shaped the region we know today.

Leaving school at 13, Ms Saffin worked tirelessly to build a career focusing on social services in domestic violence support before she trained as a lawyer.

First elected to the NSW Legislative Council in 1995, Ms Saffin made the switch to federal politics in 2007 when she was elected as the Member for Page.

Between her stint in NSW parliament and Canberra, Ms Saffin also worked in East Timor as the country's foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta political and legal advisor. 

In 2013 she was unseated by Kevin Hogan on a margin of under 3 per cent.

But after seeing the lasting effects of the 2017 floods in the Lismore region, Ms Saffin decided once more to put her hand up for politics, this time running for the seat of Lismore in the 2019 NSW election.

Winning the seat with the support of the Greens vote, Ms Saffin became the first woman to represent the electorate and the first Labor MP since 1965.

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