Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

Flashback Friday...

I grew up in the U.K. but I followed my sister and brother in-law to Australia, who raved about how good life was here. That was about twenty-five years ago. The trip was the longest twenty-four hour plane flight of my life. My one regret about coming to Australia is that I didn’t do it earlier. There are so many opportunities here. It’s a vast country. I have three kids: Rachel, Brendan and Rhiannon,all ranging from late teens to early twenties.

I moved to York around the year 2000 when I purchased a property called the Bayleaf Rural Getaway. It’s called the Olive Branch now, running a bed and breakfast with a restaurant and luxury spa suites set on a five-acre property. What keeps me in York is the atmosphere and the friendliness of the townsfolk. It’s a typical country town in that if you wanted to walk from one end of the street to the other it’d probably take you about three hours because you’re always getting stopped for a chat. So it’s hard to go anywhere in a rush, not that I’m an ‘in a rush’ type of person, at least not most of the time.

I’m the owner/editor of the York and Districts Community Matters newspaper, which I’ve been running for twelve years, delivering over 11,000 copies each month in the central Wheatbelt. We also operate Dad’s garage, which looks after all the kids’ cars, as an ex British Champion in Rallycross we primarily we work on race cars and off-road performance cars. One of the cars we’re working on we last raced at Barbagallo Raceway, where we blew it up! Now it’s sitting in the shed in bits. I co-drive one of the race cars every now and then and we have a lot of fun.

The other string to my bow is that I’m the property and maintenance manager for the Old York Mill site. I also have a business called Live Music Events. We do sound reinforcement and lighting for bands and we also do stage hire and marquees. I used to do rock and roll shows, which were good fun. We used to have Elvis, Janis Joplin, Meatloaf, Roy Orbison tribute acts. It was a good time for me because I used to do all the sound production for it and when we had the live bands it was good fun. I also run YorkKleaning Services, which we’ve just started up recently, and Avon Arc Test and Tag which covers Fire Extinguisher and Electrical testing.

On the volunteering side of things, I’m now the fire lieutenant at the York Volunteer Fire Emergency Services and the State Emergency Services. Regarding the SES component, our busy time is winter, whereas on the fire side it’s summertime. I’ve also acted as the Community Emergency Services Manager for Beverley and York.

I run York and District Seniors Appreciation Day at the Old York Mill Sawtooth shed each year. We receive funding from the Shire of York and local businesses to put on a meal and entertainment show for the seniors. We were starting to get people coming in from Northam and Beverley so we’ve opened it up to the entire district. I don’t have a lot of time off; I just keep juggling all these roles around.

The most influential person in my life is definitely my father. He’s a similar character to me and probably where I get my calmness from. The fighting spirit side of me comes from my mother. My best times in my life were seeing the growth of my three children. The happiest part of that was that they all turned out to be great people. I don’t think I’ve had any especially bad moments in my life. Sometimes I think I’m a bit hard because nothing ever really gets to me. I see some bad things in my role with the firefighters – like doing CPR for someone and then finding out later that they didn't make it.

My advice for the younger generation of today would be to really consider volunteering for something or somebody, because organisations like the Volunteer Firefighting Service are really struggling for volunteers. Sometimes my son Brendan and I are the only ones turning up to a fire, which can be quite frightening.

We had a call recently from a local retirement village and I was thinking ‘if we’ve got to get all those people out we won’t cope.’ At the moment we’re working with maybe five or six active volunteers, although we have just signed up another three volunteers. Brendan and I are fortunate because we are reasonably flexible with our time, so we can go out to daytime callouts. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of thing – when people are running away from the fire, we are running toward it.

Human - Mark Lloyd
Interviewer - Paula Whittington
Photographer - Tom Gratis Roh
Writer - Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

This was originally published on January 2020.

#wheatbelt #community #inclusion

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The Wheatbelt Health Network offers support including General Practice, Nursing, Mental Health, Allied Health and Visiting Specialists.

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Wheatbelt Health Centre
25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8am-6pm Mon – Fri

Aboriginal Health - Northam
65 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9690 2824

Therapy Plus
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Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
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Open: 8.30am – 5pm Mon – Fri


Wundowie Health Centre
GP Services
283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie
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Open: 8.30am – 4pm Wednesdays


Aboriginal Health - Narrogin
Williams Road, Narrogin
Phone: 08 9881 0385
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Tues

After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

  • 283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie

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