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: Lismore's most renowned men

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

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 local men (and one special woman!) we thought deserved a shout out for their contributions to our local communities.

Rob Wells.
Rob Wells. Alison Paterson

Rob Wells

ROB Wells lost his teen son Bryce in a horrific car crash on Broken Head Rd in 2006 and resolved to do everything he could to avoid it happening again.

From tragic accident, in which four young lives were lost, sprang a community organisation, Southern Cross LADS (Learn About Driving Skills), and a plan for a dedicated Northern Rivers driver education centre.

Rob has been a tireless campaigner for the vision, and it has been a marathon effort.

Eventually in 2016, the project had accumulated enough funding, along with council approval, to build the Lismore-based centre, with the centre officially completed and ready to service the community.

Immediately after the 2006 crash Rob also campaigned for key changes to young driver laws which restricted provisional drivers to only one passenger.

The laws were enacted in the NSW Parliament in July 2007, and in the 12 months following there was a reduction of 35 per cent of driving fatalities among 18-25 year-olds, equating to 48 young lives.

Through his loss, Rob's efforts over the past decade will hopefully help to save many more lives.

Michael Balderstone.
Michael Balderstone. Liana Turner

Michael Balderstone

HE IS one of the most prominent activists and spokespeople to have emerged from the town of Nimbin in the last 40 years.

He is also one of the nation's most outspoken advocates of medical marijuana and has spearheaded many of the initiatives to decriminalise the plant.

Mr Balderstone is the Australian HEMP Party president, the Hemp Embassy president, and founder of the Nimbin Museum, as well as a co-founder of the well known MardiGrass festival.

He organises many of the Medican workshops in town, where people from all walks of life gather to share their stories and expertise on medical marijuana.

In 1992, along with a group of friends and artists, Michael also helped transform his shop into the Nimbin Museum which held much of the town's extensive history following the 1974 Aquarius Festival.

The museum was later destroyed in a fire.

Hugh and Nan Nicholson.
Hugh and Nan Nicholson. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Nan and Hugh Nicholson

WHILE we are aware beloved The Channon resident Nan Nicholson is not a man, let's be honest, you can't have Hugh Nicholson without mentioning his lovely wife.

The Nicholsons were very active in the battle to save the Terania Creek rainforest in the late 1970s and early 1980s - a battle which became an important catalyst for other forest issues.

Their love of rainforest led to establishment of a rainforest nursery and publication of six books on Australian rainforest plants.

Their environmental activism continued through their involvement in the campaign to keep the Northern Rivers gasfield free.

Their passion for the rainforest which they love inspires all they meet, and they are truly some of the greatest inspirations for those who love the beautiful environment in which we live.

Geoff Hannah.
Geoff Hannah. Sophie Moeller

Geoff Hannah

YOU could easily fill one of Geoff Hannah's famed hand-crafted cabinets with his many accolades.

The humble Lismore local thought someone was kidding him when was advised by letter he was to receive a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) earlier this year.

He has received the Silver Medallion for the Arts in the Lismore Bicentennial Australia Day Awards, 1988 and the National Exhibition for Woodwork Award on four occasions in the Tradtional Furniture Section. 

A master craftsman since 1973, he received a Churchill Fellowship in 1980 that inspired him to create some of the masterpieces he has become famous for, taking him to took him to the workshops of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Palace of Versailles, France.

Mr Hannah's well-known creation The Hannah Cabinet has been on display at the new Lismore Regional Gallery since it opened last October.

It is valued at at least $1 million, took 5000 hours to complete and is made up of 34 fine timbers and 17 types of stone - including a secret compartment made of woven material from Marie Antionette's bed.

Despite his success, Mr Hannah still focuses his commitment to teaching and passing on his infectious love of working in wood from his home workshop three days a week in Lismore.

Mungo Wentworth MacCallum.
Mungo Wentworth MacCallum. Marc Stapelberg

Mungo MacCallum

FORMALLY described as a political journalist and commentator, Mungo Wentworth MacCallum cut his teeth covering federal politics from the Canberra Press Gallery in the 1970s to the 1990s.

Regarded as one of Australia's most influential and entertaining political journalists, in a career spanning more than 40 years, MacCallum has written for the country's leading national and state daily newspapers, as well as contributing to numerous magazines and broadcast media.

While many dull but worthy articles on the state of the nation's political landscape are guaranteed to send you to sleep, Mr MacCullum's stories comprise witty and intelligent commentary.

Once described by former prime minister Gough Whitlam as a "tall, bearded descendant of lunatic aristocrats,” MacCullum's reportage continues to try and keep the bastards honest.

Elton Cummings.
Elton Cummings. Marc Stapelberg

Elton Cummings

THERE is now a generation of Northern Rivers residents who have never known life without the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.

The crews rescue people from crashes, the tops of mountains and dangerous seas.

But it all began with an idea, and a strong campaign from Elton Cummings, who is effectively the reason why this service exists on the Northern Rivers.

Mr Cummings led the charge for the service to have a base in the region, sparked by a death on a North Coast beach in 1976.

"I'm very proud that we gave it a good foundation to get it to where it is today,” Mr Cummings said.

"I'm jealous because they've got everything we never had and sad because had I maybe got bigger aircraft, quicker and faster we might have been able to save more lives.”

The service is on call 24/7 and attends about 2000 missions each year, including everything from road incidents to rescues and urgent hospital transfers.

Mr Cummings has also been involved with the Ballina Jet Boat Rescue.

Stan Gilchrist.
Stan Gilchrist. Marc Stapelberg

Stan Gilchrist

STAN Gilchrist of Goonellabah is the founder and chairman of the Northern NSW branch of the Lord's Taverners, a non-profit organisation of cricket lovers that helps young people and the disadvantaged.

He is a former school teacher, school inspector, cricketer, cricket coach - and father of Adam Gilchrist, the one-time Kadina High School student whose thrilling batting changed the way the sport looks at wicketkeeper-batsmen.

Stan Gilchrist completed high school at Inverell in the 1950s and an engineering and education degree at the University of NSW in the early 1960s.

After having been involved in Rotary and various other charitable organisations over the years, Stan Gilchrist said the Lord's Taverners was the best organisation he had been involved with in terms of its ability to help people achieve their goals and improve their lives.

He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2015 for his services to cricket and the community.

Greg McNamara.
Greg McNamara. Jamie Brown

Greg McNamara

NORCO'S chairman of the board, Greg McNamara has been a director of Australia's largest and oldest dairy cooperative Limited for 20 years.

A member of Norco's Member Services Committee, Mr McNamara runs a 300 head dairy herd at Goolmangar just outside Lismore, in partnership with his wife Sue and son Todd.

Mr McNamara has been a steady hand on the wheel of Norco, and rallied support when the co-operative recently faced losing its contracts to supply clients within the Northern New South Wales Local Health District.

A board member of the New South Wales Business Chamber, he is respected throughout the sector, Mr McNamara is regularly consulted on matters across the agricultural sector, and in his role as chair of the Industry Advisory Group (IAG) within the Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program (FCCPP).

Mr McNamara is passionate about encouraging farmers to work together to improve farm gate returns by providing advice and resources to farmers and farmer groups looking to establish co-operatives and collaborative business models.

Professor Adam Shoemaker.
Professor Adam Shoemaker. Marc Stapelberg

Adam Shoemaker

PROFESSOR Adam Shoemaker became Vice Chancellor of Southern Cross University just two years ago, and has made a significant impact since.

When he took the role he declared he wanted SCU to become most progressive, connected and student-focused university in Australia.

The Canadian-born professor is seen as innovative and youthful VC, not afraid to break the mould and try new things.

Under his leadership, SCU also took a proactive attitude to the threat of university funding cuts by releasing a foundation document, the New Regional Deal, to build a compelling case for the funding of regional universities.

The release of the 2018 budget vindicated this approach, with $96 million awarded specifically to regional universities, a win described by Shoemaker as "overdue recognition” that universities were a "cornerstone” of the future of regional Australia.

Under his tenure the Gold Coast campus of the university continues to steam ahead, although it's headquarters remain firmly in Lismore.

Wayne Jones.
Wayne Jones. Scott Powick

Wayne Jones

IT'S a long way from being a nurse in Western Sydney to being chief executive of the Northern New South Wales Local Health District.

But the challenge of running the district which involves 6000 staff is clearly one that Wayne Jones has relished since his appointment in May 2016.

Since then, Mr Jones has overseen the $180 million redevelopment of the Lismore Base Hospital including a new paediatric unit, a helipad, new operating theatres, women's care unit, medical imaging services and new inpatient units and a 12-level south tower.

He was at the helm when an additional $52.5 million was announced by the NSW Government in June for the final Stage 3C of the redevelopment, including an enhanced Intensive Care Unit, new inpatient units and new education, training, research and administration facilities.

But he's also has to deal some devastating knocks to the NNSWLHD's reputation, including February's coronial Inquest into the death of Michaela Perrin at LBH.

Kevin Hogan.

Kevin Hogan

SINCE being elected to the Federal seat of Page in 2013, Nationals MP Kevin Hogan has carved out a reputation for getting money where it's needed.

The seat of Page takes in Lismore, Casino, Kyogle, plus Grafton and the northern reaches of Coffs Harbour in the south.

Hogan was somewhat of an unknown quantity when elected with the change of government from Labor to the Coalition in 2013.

But after a quiet couple of years, he finished 2015 with a flurry of funding announcements worth $12 million.

It included $3.5m for Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange in Casino, $850,000 for the completion of the Ballina Marine Rescue Tower, $2.85m to construct the Lismore Regional Art Gallery and $4.15m to improve sugar freight and logistics at Harwood Mill and Refinery.

A former teacher and financial planner from Sydney, Hogan lives in Clunes with his wife Karen and their teenage children.

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