Interviewee: Bev Jordan
Interviewer: Louise Darmody from Sound Memories,
for The Hills Shire Council
Date of Interview: 26 May, 2015
Transcription: Louise Darmody, June 2015
Bev Jordan is the recipient of The Hills Shire Australia Day awards for Citizen of the Year 2015.
Bev is well known in the Sydney Hills for her many years working as a senior reporter at the Hills Shire Times while being the major driving force behind The Hills Relay for Life. With the support of Bev and a group of dedicated volunteers, Relay has consistently raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research every year. Bev was also recognised for her commitment to Christmas in The Hills, Centenary of ANZAC, Guide Dogs NSW and for mentoring students at Crestwood High School.
This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee
Can you tell me where you grew up?
I grew up in many, many places. My father was in the services, so we would move all the time as he got posted. I was born actually in Exeter but when I was eight weeks old, my father was posted to Malta. So, we went to Malta for three years. And, then when we came back we were based at Deal in Kent. Then he was posted to Singapore, so we went to Singapore for three years. When he came back, we lived in Bedford and then we went back to Deal where there was a huge Royal Marine base. So, my childhood was moving around a lot.
And, was that difficult?
No, it was a lot of fun. When I look back, I think I must’ve been networking from the age of about two or three, because the other day I wrote down how many primary schools I went to and I think I went to about eight or nine, I can’t remember. Some were repeated. So it was a lot of meeting new people all the time and being the new kid in the class or the new kid in the room. But it was never boring.
And, was it tricky making new friends every time?
I don’t know. I think as children, the wonderful thing that children have is that there’s no preamble, they just get on with it, you know, there’s a new person there, they like the look of them, they’ll go over and start playing with them. I think when you look at children in playgrounds and in schools, they just mix, they don’t have any preconceptions of people. They don’t have any inhibitions, so I think all my life it was just going up and talking to the first person I saw.
Which are a perfect requisite for a journalist?
Oh, perfect training ground. If only I knew then.
So, why did you choose journalism as a career?
I’m very much a stickybeak. I always wanted to know what was happening, why it was happening, and who it was happening to. I remember when I was young, seeing the end of a police car chase where a car that the police were chasing, ended up embedded in our Community Centre opposite my house, and I wanted to know what had happened and why it had happened. I ran over I said to the police, “What happened?” and they said, “We don’t have to tell you.” And so, from that very early age I thought, I want to be the person they have to tell. I want to know and I want to let other people know. So I suppose it was the true profession for a sticky-beak.
What prompted you to move to Australia?
My mother had come out here and my husband was a journalist as well. We were living in Essex, which is a fantastic news area. We were living just near Tilbury Docks, which I don’t mean to be rude about Tilbury, but if you live near Tilbury Docks, everywhere else seems really exciting. So, it was a great news area. We were covering industrial disputes and all sorts of things like that. There was a lot of crime; I do a lot of emergency services stories, so it was a great area for me to learn my trade. But, we came over to Australia for a visit and what’s not to love about Australia, it’s just amazing. We fell in love with the openness of the people, the beauty of the country, the food and the wine, it was just amazing. It was like paradise by the sea. So, we put in our papers and came out, got accepted really quickly. Things change, I mean, at that time Australia was desperate for sub-editors, now they don’t want any sub-editors.
And, what year was that?
We migrated in 1984, the very end of 1984.
And, what was your first job?
My first job was with Cumberland Newspapers. I actually arrived on the Wednesday, my luggage had got lost in transit, so I borrowed my mum’s clothes for an interview on the Thursday. I remember walking into the Parramatta Headquarters of Cumberland Newspapers and Len Rodney, the Editor-In-Chief saying to me, “Can you start tomorrow?” and I said, “Well, can I just start on Monday? Hopefully my clothes will arrive at the weekend.” And, I just loved it from that moment. It’s a great place. Parramatta is a great bustling city. So there is a lot of stories and a lot of depth and a lot of complexity, so as a journalist, the whole western Sydney story, it was just such a rich vein of stories.
And, you say, when you came out to Australia, “we”, who were the “we”?
The “we” was my husband David and myself. David started working on the Manly Daily, and I was on the Parramatta Advertiser, so we were living in the Parramatta Advertiser area. But between us, David ended up working at the Penrith Press, I was relief reporter, so we worked at Northern District Times, Mosman Daily. So, Parramatta was always that good central point. And then I moved to the Hills and started working on the Hill Shire Times in 2000.
Didn’t you work in – for The Hill Shire Times in 1986?
Yes when I was first with Cumberland, I worked on the Parramatta Advertiser, and then I got promoted and I was one of the first editors of the Hill Shire Times. And Castle Hill was so different then. It was amazing, there were hardly any restaurants. I think there were one or two restaurants there, there was no cinema, and there was basically not much there at all. No Castle Towers when I was first in Castle Hill, and now I’m working here, it’s such a vibrant, I can’t keep track of the amount of restaurants there are. And, the cinemas are huge and we’re just so spoilt in the Hills. We’ve got a very vibrant area, it’s very different.
And, in 1986, you told me that the name of the Hill Shire Times was a completely different name?
Yes, it used to be the Farm and Garden, and it had been the Farm and Garden from the 1950s because that was the Hills area, the Hills was very much farm and gardens. It was small holdings; there were a lot of farmers, lots of citrus, orchards, things like that. It used to have a train line that converted into a line where people used to ship all their boxes of fruit and things down. So, we’re actually going back to the future by finally getting a rail line in 2019, because we used to have one.
So, you’ve been in the area during a really interesting changing time, haven’t you?
It’s a fabulous area. I mean, we often talk about what a great community we live in, and the Hills really is a lovely community. It’s got that real mix, like you’ve got the very, very dynamic north-west business park with all the businesses there and the thousands and thousands of employees. And you have got big companies like ResMed, who are doing amazing things overseas with the sleep apnoea products and things they sell, but you’ve also got the Woolworths head office there but then you’ve got lots of little companies doing quite extraordinary things. And then you’ve got, of course, the northern end of the shire that goes out towards Wisemans Ferry. You’ve got all the big acre lots. You’ve still got orchards there and little farms and things. So, it’s this wonderful dichotomy of just a bustling metropolis.
And for a while in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, you worked for the Sydney Morning Herald, and lectured at Macleay College. Then in 1990, along came Matthew. Can you tell us about this?
Well, after the bicentennial, I’d been on a big trip to England, to home, to see everybody. And you know when you’re on a plane trip; you often start reorganising your life. And, I thought, oh, you know, I’d like to do something a bit different. And the opportunity came up to lecture in journalism, and I love my job, and I love what I do, so imparting that passion to other people seems such a good thing to do. So I started doing that but I was also sub-editor on the Sydney Morning Herald and writing the Saturday employment page. I thought that this would just add another depth to what I could do. I was doing that and really loving it, and then I discovered I was pregnant and I’d had a miscarriage before I had Matthew and I thought, I don’t want to risk this pregnancy, so I went back to Cumberland Newspapers as a sub-editor so I could live and work close to home rather than standing on the train all the way into the city all the time.
And, did it change your life dramatically from being a commuter to living locally and working locally?
I think it always does. I think motherhood changes you a lot. You never think you will change that much when children come along but oh my goodness, they change your life. I think having children helped me a lot as a journalist as well too, because I think it widens your scope of what you’re seeing. It also widens who you’re coming into contact with, and widens your experience base, I think.
And, were the stories different?
No, I’ve always been really interested in community stories and health stories, and education stories. I think when I approached a story about multiple births, having one child at that time, I understood it more and I was full of awe for the mother of triplets or quads or whatever. But I think I’ve always had a great interest in community stories and people who are doing service to others.
And, we’re in today at Alive FM 90.5, and wonderful Lloyd interviewed you just a short while ago about the local news. And, obviously, you are so passionate about the local news and it really is a driving force for you?
It is. I think that’s one of the things that motivated me to go into journalism is that I feel everybody has a story. They may not know it. Knowing other peoples’ stories just fills you with amazement by the things people are doing behind the scenes, the things that people do without any want to have any glory or anything else. They just do it because they’re there to help. I think it’s a great privilege to see the threads that hold a community together. And that’s what I’ve been able to do in the Hills. I’ve been on the Hill Shire Times for 15 years now, so I’ve seen some extraordinary people and been able to tell some extraordinary stories, which is great.
Are there any stories that have really jumped out at you?
I think the one in this week’s paper was very poignant. The Gremmo family lost their 13 year old son. Nathan died in a road accident and the family, when they were asked if they’d like to donate his organs said, “yes” they would. And they have spoken out about that because they want other families to have that conversation about organ donation. And it’s never easy to tell your story, and it’s never easy to watch it unfold. I mean, this story will be online; it’s in our paper and Nathan’s on the front page. So I always admire the courage people take when they’re going to speak to you, it’s a big step for them, and in some cases, an enormous step.
And, you as a family have done an enormous amount of work, volunteer work for Guide Dogs. What ignited your interest in this charity?
I used to write stories about guide dogs, and we had a very lovely dog that passed away. When he died, the family, there were four of us then, we said, “We’re not getting another dog” and then I said, “You know what? I’ve had this really good idea. I think it would be great fun if we actually did puppy raising for Guide Dogs.” So you actually take on a dog for 12 months and puppy raise them. So we took on Fergus at that point, and puppy raised Fergus. And it was a wonderful. Matthew had just gone to high school, so he was in year seven, Hannah was at primary school. But, it was a wonderful, learning thing for the children to get involved in. My husband worked on the Sunday Telegraph, so he was off work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, I was off work on Wednesday, and I was allowed to take the dog in for part of the day on the Thursday, Friday, because you’re not allowed to leave these puppies for longer than four hours. It really worked, it was a wonderful exercise for the children and all their friends in doing something for other people that has a greater value. Hannah would take her dog in for Show and Tell, and things like that. So, we did that and that was the first dog. And then when we had another dog.
What was the dog’s name, the first one? Fergus?
Fergus. And, we did a story, we had a column in the paper called Fergus Files, so that was our first dog. And, then we were given a dog when Fergus went back to Guide Dogs, we were given another dog. And, then when he passed away, the children said, “Let’s get another Guide Dog puppy.” So, we went into Wyman then, and then another neighbour helped and now she’s had two guide dog puppies.
You were even allowed to bring the dog to work?
I was allowed to take the dog to work. Even when he ate everybody’s sandwiches, they still didn’t mind him coming to work.
And, your other great passion, very, very important passion in your life is Relay For Life. Can you tell us what that is?
Hills Relay For Life. It’s very hard to explain because I think the “relay” word puts people off. But, it’s an absolutely amazing community gathering. It raises funds and raises awareness for the Cancer Council and the tag line is, sort of, remember, celebrate, and fight back. And, it’s celebrating peoples' survivorship. It’s remembering those people that have passed away, and it’s fighting back against this insidious disease. Now, I was covering it as a journalist and busy mum as well, so I spent most of my day running around after my children’s sport, so I didn’t get to the event until the evening where they had the candlelight service of remembrance. I was so touched by how moving this was, and how many hundreds upon hundreds of people from the community gathered to remember people who’d passed on. And so when I was asked if I would join the committee, I said, “Yes, I definitely will.” And that was ten years ago. At the time, we didn’t have anybody in our family who’d been touched by cancer; I just wanted to help with this amazing community event. Then two years later, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, so it became very relevant to us.
You were obviously looking at peoples’ experiences from a distance, very very passionately and very sympathetically how did it change for you when it was, sadly, your husband and your family?
I think I realised the power of Relay, that it became not just a fundraiser. I saw how important it was for cancer patients, but also carers, in seeing so many people there for the same cause gives you a tremendous boost. My husband loved Relay when he was going through his treatment because he said he felt energised by it. And, I speak to a lot of survivors who take part in Relay, and for them it gives them that buzz. This is a whole community coming together to make a difference to your outcome, because the money goes to cancer research, it goes to support programs. And what I like about Relay, is that the money goes to support a lot of those cancers that don’t get a lot of money. So, our money has gone to pancreatic cancer, it’s gone to brain cancer, it’s gone to leukaemia research, it’s gone to bowel cancer research. So it’s helping a lot of cancers, it’s not just one type of cancer, it’s a whole lot of cancers. And, we’ve just had the 14th Relay, but before the 14th Relay, the first 13 Relays raised a total of three million dollars, and that’s just the Hills community. So, that’s why it’s such an important community event. I mean, people come, they have stalls, there’s all day entertainment, people meet up with other cancer survivors and families, they talk. Our first lap is for cancer survivors and their carers, and there’s a real buzz and a real atmosphere.
Opening of Hills Relay for Life 2008
So, how does logistically it work? If I was to come along on the first day and see Relay, what would I be seeing?
You would be seeing a campsite. A whole lot of people pitch their tents on the Friday night, or early on Saturday morning and setup camp. There are teams of people, there are teams from schools. We had Crestwood High there, Castle Hill High, Pennant Hills High School there, we had Castle Hill Public School. So, people come as teams. There are churches there, there are family groups, there are groups of friends. We had the SES there, we had the RFS there, we had the Hills Police there. So, they all bring their vans, their trucks, their displays, and they all walk around a track. So, we have a track there and it’s a 24-hour event. We don’t insist that teams have a person on the track all the time, we don’t insist that people stay for 24 hours. It’s really up to people what they want to do.
Some people decide to get sponsored per lap, some people set a commitment like, ‘I am going to do 100 laps.’ Some people say, ‘I am going to walk the 24 hours’ and people do that. Other teams say, ‘We’ll just have somebody on the track the whole time.’ I know the Crestwood crew had somebody on that track all the time, and they walked around with a little Rory bear, a little bear toy that is the Cancer Council bear. And, it was just a lot of fun. A lot of the big businesses come so there are a lot of mascots there. So, we had Event Cinemas with their boy and girl, we had Towers, we had the Library – Castle Hill Library came and they had a pop-up library there with books. The Southern Cross Garrison always bring their Star Wars figures, and Castle Hill RSL had a whole lot of action hero figures. And, then we had one team, Rochelle’s Princesses, little Layla’s too. She lost her mum to cancer and Rochelle wanted to have a princess party for Layla, so 56 princesses came along and there were hairy men in princess costumes, and there were grandparents in princess costumes. Some young boys and cousins and girl cousins, all dressed as princesses. So, it was just very uplifting.
So, it’s a real spectacle in the area?
It’s fantastic. It’s a huge community event; it’s one of the biggest community events in the area. When people come and they don’t know what Relay is, they get such a shock and such a vibe from it, it’s quite vibrant. And for the past six, seven Relays, each Relay has raised more than $250,000. So, we’re doing very well.
And, David did a very personal fundraising, didn’t he, when he was involved?
He setup the team, Team Jordan in 2007 and it was a very tangible way that our friends and people could join us on that journey of David’s cancer journey. Because when you have a friend or family member that says that big C word, “I have cancer” it’s very hard to deal with. People don’t quite know what to say, they don’t know what to do, they obviously want to do something. They bake meals, they come over, which is fantastic and we love that, but with the Relay, it really gave them a focus. And so, it was very important for us. And, we’ve had Team Jordan in the Relay every year since David set up in 2007. He was with us for 2007 and 2008. Sadly by 2009 he'd passed away. He passed away in the April, and the Relay is always in May. We’ve been fundraising, before this Relay, I think we’d raised over $51,000 as team, Team Jordan. And, this year I shaved my head, and my aim was to raise $10,000 this year.
Are you on track?
I’m $60 off. So, we’ll have a whip around later to get me over that line. So I’m very proud of what Team Jordan has achieved, but our team is just one of so many teams that all go out to make a difference. I mean, Rochelle’s princesses raised something over $25,000 this year. And, I think that surprised them a lot too. But, it’s something that people feel that they can make a difference. And, quite honestly, for any charity, every dollar does make a difference.
And, you were saying to me before that the money also goes locally as well as to these great causes for research?
It does go locally. Our money has been used to buy palliative care beds. We went to the palliative care nurses at Hills Community Health Centre who cared for my husband, and we said, “What do you need?” and they said, “Well, we actually need these specialised beds, we need more of them.” It means that people can stay at home, remain at home. And, we were very lucky in that my husband spent his last few weeks at home. So, he passed away at home, in his bedroom, surrounded by his two children, his mum who’d flown over from the UK, his brother, who’d flown over from the UK, the dog and the cat and listening to Paul Kelly on the radio.
So a very sad story but very constructive way of dealing with the illness?
I think palliative care is a very big issue that not a lot of people talk about. When they do research, I think 80 to 90 percent of people would like to die at home. But, in reality, only about ten percent, I’m not quite sure of the exact figure, but I know it’s a very small proportion of people that get to pass away in their own home. In that way it sounds strange saying the word ‘lucky’ but we were very lucky in that David could. I mean, there are very few choices when you are told that you are terminally ill and you’re going to die, but being able to pass away with your family and friends in your own home, if you can make that decision is a very important choice to make. And, that’s the choice we made as a family. That’s where David wanted to be and we were lucky that we could have him there. And, palliative care nurses and the care we got from Hills Community Health Centre was absolutely fantastic.
The opening of Hills Relay for Life in 2013
And, there’s not only the Relay For Life, is there? There’s balls and all sorts of things ?
There used to be one event. When I joined the fundraising committee, or I joined Relay, that year was the year of the tsunami, so that particular year the Relay raised $90,000. And it was one event. So you’re very much subject to the weather. If the weather’s bad, not many people turn up, so you don’t raise as much money. So it seemed sensible to have other events linked to it. So I contacted two women that I’d actually done interviews on, and I thought, well if you want something done, go to the people you think can get things done, so I went to Zoe Graham and Sue O’Neill. Sue O’Neill had done a lot of work with Rotary and International Aid, and Zoe Graham had done a lot of work within her community in bringing her Castlebrook community at Castle Hill together with things like derbies and go-kart derbies, billy-kart derbies and raising money for Parramatta Mission. She’s one of those people that put about three million lights on her house at Christmas, and people come from far and wide to see it. And, all the money she raises and she asks people to bring toys and things, and they give that to Parramatta Mission. I thought, well, those two women will help me achieve something, so we put on the first Relay ball and we’ve just had the ninth. So, that’s quite a big fundraiser. So, that’s raised nearly $400,000 over those nine years for the Cancer Council. And, there’s lots of other teams do things, we have a trivia night, we have a Christmas wrap. This year Castle Towers kindly let us do a Mother’s Day wrap. So, there’s a whole lot of things going on as well.
So, it’s just a really vital force in the community with something always happening?
It is. There is something always happening. The brand colour is purple, so there’s lots of pink events around, so we decided to get that purple branding out there. So, we do lots of purple branded events. I had a retro disco last year that was very popular. And, you know, I think a lot of the big charity balls happen in town. We thought, you know, this is such a vibrant community, the Hills, we can do that here. We can get the community involved. So, we started doing that, and the community have been fabulous. Like, we’ve got great business people in this community, and they do things too.
And, this morning, Bev, you’ve been to a local high school to help their mentoring program. Can you tell us about that?
I do mentoring with Crestwood High. Now, this mentoring program is fabulous work. There are two teachers there, they’re doing fabulous work at Crestwood High. This is an award winning mentoring program. They get people in from the business community and they match them up with students. They find out what the year 11 students want to do. They don’t necessarily pick the high achievers. There’s a mix of students right across the board. Sometimes they pick students who they feel are disconnecting from the education system and maybe not engaged enough, and this is a way of getting them engaged. Some of them are high achievers or ones that have a particular passion for a career path. So, they seek people in the local community that can guide them on that path, give them good feedback. But also, can be somebody who’s not a teacher, who’s not a family member, an adult they can just talk to.
So, what have you got out of mentoring the person that you’ve been mentoring?
Well, I’ve done it for four years and I’ve met some great young people. They’ve taught me all sorts of things about what they seek out of life, what they think is important. Just the ambition and drive that they have and the care and compassion that they have, it’s really interesting. I think sometimes when our children get older. I mean, I’m lucky, I’ve got children that are 21 and 24, so I’m sort of grounded in that age range. But, you can lose touch with young people, and if you don’t have teenagers in your life, it’s really good to connect with teenagers and find out just what they’re passionate about, what they’re thinking about and how they relate to careers and thinking about the future.
And, have any of these people gone into your career? Have they become journalists?
I think I must be a terrible mentor, none of them have become journalists. My first young mentee is actually back as a mentor, she went into teaching. So it’s really interesting seeing her. They’ve all gone onto uni but they’ve done different things at uni.
What sort of things?
Well teaching is one of them. I think another one of my mentee’s has done teaching, and I’m not quite sure what the other ones are doing. One’s in year 12 at the moment, my last mentee, because they’re in year 11 when you’re their mentor. He came to Relay this year and had a good time. And Zoe’s in year 11, but she’s thinking on the lines of maybe radio. So, I have given her the card of Alive 90.5 and said you’d be happy if she’d came and just saw what radio was like. She’s very interested in community radio.
So, very good networking, which you’re very good at?
It’s good networking. I think one of the joys in my job is I get to meet a lot of people, but I can also join up the dots. I can think, “that person would be really good connected to that person” and I think that’s a wonderful thing if you can draw people together.
And, you’ve lived in many places around the world, and reported on so many different stories. What makes the Hills Shire different to other places you’ve worked as a journalist and very importantly, a volunteer?
Well, I think the volunteering has opened up a whole world to me. I really, really encourage people, if you’ve got a few hours, and I mean, there’s so many volunteers I know that have full-time jobs and still squeeze in that volunteering. Because, it’s a fabulous thing to do because you get so much more out of it because, I think, the people you meet aren’t necessarily people you would’ve met normally. Like on the Hills Relay For Life Committee, we’ve got a great bunch of people. There are a couple of people who run their own business; there are a couple of people who are teachers. There’s only one retired person, all the rest work and do very, very different jobs. So, it’s a wonderful way to meet people. And, the Relay committee, we have grandparents, we have baby boomers, and we also have young adults. So, there’s that wonderful mix. And, we’ve had people who are students too, who all throw in their ideas into the mix. So, it’s that wonderful committee that spans, I think, almost five decades of people. It’s just lovely. So, I think you get a lot more out of volunteering than you ever put in
And, it’s very inclusive
It is very inclusive. I mean, who doesn’t want people that want to help, and everybody has different skills with volunteering. I mean, obviously my forte as a volunteer is publicity. I can do the publicity, I can do the media, I can do a bit of marketing, but everybody else brings different skills to that. Alison on our committee is raffles, she loves raffles, and she loves selling them, folding them, doing everything else with them. Everybody has a different skill base. And, it’s great when you’re volunteering if you can tap in on peoples’ skill basis and use that. I have met great people through volunteering. But, the thing is, with the Hills community, is that it is a vibrant community. I think it’s got one of the highest rates of volunteerism, if that’s such a word, in New South Wales, and I would think in Australia. It’s just fabulous the way people all pitch in. And, sometimes people don’t realise they’re volunteering. Like, all the people at Alive 90.5 are volunteers, and they get the community radio to air. You know, I was volunteering when I was doing school canteen, I was reading to children at school, doing the sports canteen on sports day. It used to terrify me when kids would come up with $1 coins and say, “How many sweets can I get for this?” “How many frogs can I get?” and “How many…” I used to think, I’ve got to do the maths in my head. But, I’m just one of thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of people in this community who volunteer.
Are there any messages that you have that you would like to give to those people who will be listening to your story?
I was always told as a child that you never judge a book by its cover, and that is so true. You never know the background to somebody and what’s going on in their life. It’s really important to listen to people. If you can help in any way, the biggest thing you can give people, your family, your friends, your community, is your time. So even if it’s one hour a week, or a couple of hours each month, if you can volunteer, just give it a go. It’s a wonderful thing to do.
And, is there anything else you’d like to say in this interview?
Have a look at the Hills Relay For Life. Come and join us. I think this is a great community. I think we do so much good. Obviously, I’m on the Hills Shire Times, and I think it’s really important that people read their papers, look at their media, go online and just find out what is happening in your community as well as what’s happening in the world. It’s really important to stay connected and be connected, and really care about other people. It’s important to care.
Bev, you’re certainly really serious about raising money for Relay For Life. So, serious that you’ve shaved your hair. Was this hard to do?
Well, it was something I decided to do at last year’s Hills Relay For Life. A young friend shaved her hair, and a couple of other people had shaved their hair. And, I always knew it was something I would do. It was a question of when. And, my daughter was a bit, ‘Oh, Mum, don’t do it.’ But I think once I’d set my mind to it, it was always going to happen. And I never liked my hair that much to be honest, and I think when you lose somebody, it puts everything into perspective. So, to me, my hair wasn’t that big an issue. I just wanted to show people I have friends that have had breast cancer and lost their hair, and they didn’t have a choice about it, and I had a choice. So, I wanted to shave my head and sort of make a statement of this is something that you don’t have to hide about, you can show your hair, walk tall, be proud of who you are and what you’re dealing with, but also raise a lot of money for Cancer Council. So, I’m just a tad short of 10,000 at the moment. So it’s set out to do all the things I wanted it to do, which is good.
Have you noticed the way people react or respond to you that don’t know you, has it been a surprising experience?
I’ve bought a lot beanies. Doing it in winter means that your head gets so cold. I’ve got a beanie for bed, a beanie for TV, a beanie for going out. I tend to wear the beanie not to hide my bald head, but just to keep me warm. I do take it off. People are quite respectful. I sort of feel a bit of a fraud. I’m hoping that people don’t think I’m ill. But, it’s the young children that tend to stare and their parents that tend to politely avert their eyes. But I’m quite happy to walk around bare headed but not when it’s that cold.
And, you haven’t had any strange reactions from people, other than children?
No, I’ve had people being extra kind to me, which has made me feel a bit of a fraud, I think they think I’m ill. But, no. Children giggle a little bit. But, no, it’s all good. I’m just glad I haven’t got a nobly head, that it looks okay.
And, are you excited about what’s going to come next, the hair that grows?
Well, that’s the exciting bit. You don’t know what’s going to happen next. I think it’s growing back dark. I actually dyed it purple before I had it shaved off because I thought that would make more of a spectacle of it. Karin Murton from Northmead shaved my hair. But I decided that everybody likes to scalp a journalist, so I actually auctioned off, or gave somebody the opportunity for $100 to do that first shave and it was Susan Cliff from Robert Cliff Jewellers who grabbed the opportunity. And I was a bit worried when she grabbed the clippers and said, “How do I use these?” and I could hear the buzzing coming closer and closer to my ear. That was a bit unnerving. But, it was good because Karin Murton took over and she gave me a bit of a Mohawk. So, I stood up and showed off my purple Mohawk and I think the children sitting in the front of the stage were just screaming with laughter. And, then she did Monk cut, so I stood up and showed that off. So, it was a bit of an exhibition. I’m not a shy person. So it wasn’t done quietly.
And, where was that happening?
It was happening at the Relay For Life at the Centenary of ANZAC Reserve at Kellyville it was 8:00pm at night. So, it was a tad chilly and a tad dark but it was great fun.
It was memorable. And, I had a friend who knitted me the most amazing hat, purple. It was made to order, so it’s got big purple plaits down the side and it’s got a scattering of yellow daffodils that she’d crocheted. They’re on safety pins, so I can move them around my hat. And I wear that. And, I’ve got quite a few beanies so I go around the place with a selection of different coloured hats. But when I’m in the office, I take my hat off. And there’s a few gentleman in the office who shaved their heads or who are bald, so we make quite an entertaining sight. Bald face of journalism or something like that, I think.