Coffs Coast Advocate

REVEALED: Coffs Harbour's Most Influential list

DENISE Knight said she is 'blown away and humbled' to hear she has been named Coffs Harbour's Most Influential by The Coffs Coast Advocate.

The mayor was one of 35 dedicated community personalities shortlisted by a select committee for the prestigious title.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight, The Coffs Coast Advocate's Most Influential.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight, The Coffs Coast Advocate's Most Influential. Trevor Veale

"I was blown away because there are so many remarkable people in the community. I am only one person with an army of community and council staff behind me," she said.

For Denise, being influential is not about making decisions.

"It's about being somebody who people feel they can talk to and be heard."

Dedicated to a multi-cultural community with a focus on inclusion and equality, Denise has won a lot of community support with her fresh approach.

Upon being elected mayor in 2012 she claimed she was "a woman on a mission".

The revitalised jetty foreshore is perhaps one of her greatest achievements.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight spent 2017-18 lobbying two Deputy Prime Ministers and a Prime Minister for funding for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight spent 2017-18 lobbying two Deputy Prime Ministers and a Prime Minister for funding for the Coffs Harbour Pacific Highway Bypass. Trevor Veale

"The foreshore had been virtually untouched for almost 30 years but now there are people down here all the time."

She describes the foreshore revitalisation as a "melting pot of good will" in a nod to the many organisations and different levels of government who got behind the concept.

From school fetes to high level meetings her diary is packed.

 

Westside Tennis Club switch on new LED lights on their courts with Mayor Denise Knight.
Westside Tennis Club switch on new LED lights on their courts with Mayor Denise Knight. Rachel Vercoe

"I really did intend on getting to as many things as I possibly could.

"It may just be a group of 10 people but to those 10 people it's incredibly important to them.

"We have so many support groups, so many volunteers and it is about me getting out there and saying thank you."

Denise feels that at some levels of government and bureaucracy there is a certain lack of kindness and compassion, but says her nursing career has given her a firm grounding in these two areas.

 

Coffs Harbour city councillor Denise Knight. 22 March 2018
Coffs Harbour city councillor Denise Knight. 22 March 2018 Trevor Veale

Looking to the future she has her eyes set on new art gallery/library and civic space in the CBD.

"There are a lot of things that are half done that need to be finished."

 

The Nadioc Week flag raising ceremony at Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers. Mayor Denise Knight.
The Nadioc Week flag raising ceremony at Coffs Harbour City Council Chambers. Mayor Denise Knight. Trevor Veale

1. Denise Knight, Coffs Harbour Mayor

As Mayor of Coffs Harbour, it is no surprise that Denise Knight appears on this list.

But that is where the predictability ends.

The career nurse has made no secret of her dedication to the arts, and has engaged both council and community to support the regions arts scene.

Dedicated to a multi-cultural community with a focus on inclusion and equality, Denise has been won a lot of community support with her fresh approach.

Denise and husband Chris, an obstetrician, moved to Sawtell from London 27 years ago with their then young baby.

 

Coffs Harbour mayor Denise Knight.
Coffs Harbour mayor Denise Knight. Trevor Veale

The town was so desperate for doctors back then that the real estate agent gave them an old house behind what is now the Thai restaurant rent-free.

Her dedication to the arts started when she was first joined the local P&C.

As a fundraising event, Denise wrote a melodrama, dubbed 'The Hillbillies of Sawtell', and have parents (not kids) perform as a way of raising funds for the local school.

 

Coffs Harbour city councillor Denise Knight.
Coffs Harbour city councillor Denise Knight. Trevor Veale

The play was a hit, and it became an annual event that eventually raised $20,000 annually for the school.

Denise's arts career was kick started and she went on to write plays and perform at the Jetty Theatre.

Denise has been vocal and proactive about a number of projects and initiatives, including her desire to have a world-class Entertainment Centre in Coffs Harbour that can accommodate opera, orchestras and major concerts, and will also provide a new home for the Art Gallery.

 

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight gives a speech to crowds as the Queen's Baton arrives in Coffs Harbour on Thursday, February 1, 2018.
Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight gives a speech to crowds as the Queen's Baton arrives in Coffs Harbour on Thursday, February 1, 2018. Keagan Elder

In the past she has said she's frustrated by the grinding wheels of politics which stand in the way of her achieving her goals for Coffs.

Thanks for reading our subjective list of the people effecting change in our community we hope it continues to inspire and recognise the many community-orientated leaders in Coffs Harbour.



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