HERE it is, the first reveal of the Power 30 - The Most Influential People in the Clarence Valley.

Each day four people, starting with No.30 to No.27 today, 30, will be revealed, until we reach the Top 10, which will be announced, along with the full list, in a special eight-page feature in this Saturday's paper.


Heading up our list is a champion for the environment, a controversial animal shelter owner, a staunch unionist and a world class conductor fill the first four spots in our inaugural Power 30.


JOHN Edwards has extended his core beliefs of nature conservation and sustainability from his family home into every aspect of life.

He has also proved tireless and effective champion for the environment, fearlessly taking on governments and business when they propose projects which affect the environment.

His lobbying during the planning for the Shannon Creek Dam led to a second Environmental Impact Statement after discovering shortcomings in the first.

Whether it's a plan to reroute the Clarence River inland a threat to an endangered species or the effect of agriculture on the local environment, John Edwards will present a passionate and rational argument for conservation.


DESPITE being tucked away in a back road at Eatonsville, most of the Clarence Valley would be familiar with the operation located along the route - Happy Paws - and more so the animal shelter's chief Sally Rogers.

It is guaranteed when Sally's name crops there will be a barrage of commentary that follows.

A passionate but often divisive figure whose genuine love of creatures great and small is often 'dogged' by investigations into her operational practices.

She has an army of critics who condemn those shortcomings loudly and unrelentlessly at every opportunity but she also has a band of avid supporters who will defend her without hesitation.

Coming from a corporate background, Sally also has the means and the chutzpah to stand up to whatever claims are thrown her way.

Not everyone likes how she goes about her business but giving a voice to the voiceless (in her case our discarded four-legged friends) does have noble intentions and for that reason Sally gets a top 30 guernsey.


THE photo of a tiny Sharryn Usher throwing her dimunitive figure in front of prison trucks during the picket of the Grafton jail became a defining image of the city's bid to save its jail in 2012.

Her fearless approach came as no surprise to anyone who knew the dedicated teacher and staunch unionist whose inexhaustible energy was a feature of the town's struggle in those dark days.

Sharryn has never shied away from a fight, whether it is with a government she saw taking her job when she taught at the jail, or stripping away the rights of others when TAFE campuses closed down around the State.

It doesn't matter if it's a picket line or politics in the pub, Sharryn's energy and focus has made her an effective and influential figure in the political life of our community.



WHILE his day job is that of a hearing specialist, Greg Butcher's 'hobby' also ensures what you are able to listen to is quite extraordinary.

Conductor, artistic director and founder of the Clarence Valley Orchestra and Choir, Greg is the driving force behind our most prolific concerts. The Afternoon at the Proms series draws huge audiences every time and amasses funds which are directly funnelled back into the community.

Each year he raises the entertainment bar. The roll call of stars participating in his productions never ceases to impress. From Nicholas Hammond of Sound of Music fame, to celebrity pianist and character David Helfgott and the recent Christmas Carols event with Monica Trapaga funded by the Proms's proceeds, Greg Butcher is certainly a musical man on a mission.

But don't just take our word for it, even the NSW Premier thinks so. The former navy band member's dedication to arts in the Clarence was acknowledged by a surprise presentation of a State Government Community Service Award (one of two issued by the premier's office in the area each year) at the weekend's carols which he accepted in between directing the event and conducting the choir. Bravo.


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