POWER 30: Morning tea with our power troopers
IT'S not often you see all the people congregated at The Daily Examiner yesterday morning in the same room, let alone sharing morning tea together.
There were business and industry leaders, politicians and environmentalists, and community doers and shakers in a variety of fields. Some knew each other, some had heard of each other, some met for the first time.
But they were all there to support and acknowledge their 'listing' in The Daily Examiner's inaugural Power 30 countdown of the Clarence Valley's most influential.
The light-hearted presentation was embraced by its attendees who gave thanks for thinking of them and were humbled by the honour, No. 2 on the list Bill Dougherty joking he could "feel the electricity in the room".
Many paid tribute to the teams behind them and were pleased their industries were being recognised on such a public platform.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the whole Power 30 exercise was that none of the candidates had any inkling of their inclusion until they picked up the paper that day or were tipped off by a friend.
Geoff Shepherd, who came in at No. 17 for his contributions to aged care, said he and his wife read the DEX over the breakfast table each morning and didn't see this coming at all. "We split the paper and my wife was reading her half and suddenly says 'you're in here'. I thought what for?
"It's a nice honour but I like to think it's really a reflection of the Clarence Village and its importance in the community."
Grafton Regional Gallery director Jude McBean also said she was "pretty chuffed" to be featured.
"I was getting emails and text messages all morning. It was a lovely compliment but it's not just me, it's what the gallery staff and volunteers have influenced over the years."
No. 20 Dr Sam Martin was tipped off by a friend's SMS and said it was "nice to be acknowledged among the people here today" while No. 29 Happy Paws' Sally Rogers said she was really shocked but felt very honoured.
"I didn't think I'd make a top 100 list let alone a top 30," she said. "Considering what I've been through this year (in the courts) it came as a very big surprise but I appreciated the well balanced article.
"I sent it to my 90-year-old dad who said it was 'beaut'. He was very chuffed."
Former Aboriginal Legal Service community liaison officer Avery Brown was also caught by surprise with his inclusion.
"I didn't know anything about it until last Friday. I was in Supreme Court in Coffs Harbour for the Lynette Daley case and this woman smiled at me and said I must be very proud of the story in the paper.
"I didn't know what she was talking about, then that night my wife looked it up on Facebook and saw what it was."
Mr Brown, who was ranked 13 in the Power 30, said he was pleased that someone from the Aboriginal community was included in the list, but said it was more important to realise that all the people on it and their organisations had similar goals.
"I work for my people, but we're all really in the one community and we're all working to improve it," he said.
The executive officer of the Clarence River Jockey Club Michael Beattie played down his own role in making No. 19 in the Power 30.
"I'm very lucky to be heading the biggest asset we have in the Clarence Valley," Mr Beattie said. "It's the whole organisation that's really important.
"I'm just having a go at it and hope I'm doing a reasonably good job."
At No. 30 in the list, environmentalist John Edwards was truly surprised to be considered an influencer in the community.
"It was a shock," he said. "In all my life I don't think I've influenced anyone."
But as he gave his role as an advocate for the environment more thought, he realised there have been wins among the losses.
"With the whole debate about the Shannon Creek Dam I think we did get some valuable concessions in that time," he said.
No. 1 titleholder Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis paid tribute to his team and acknowledged the fact that he was fortunate to be the sitting member at this opportune time in the Clarence while his political colleague Kevin Hogan, who came in at No. 5 but was unable to attend, sent his apologies.
"I think I was very over-ranked myself, but I think it was great thing to do to celebrate some wonderful people in our community. So well done to The Daily Examiner on the initiative," Mr Hogan said.
The People's Choice winners and No. 3 on the list, the popular dirtgirlworld creators Cate McQuillen and Hewey Eustace, were still humbled by all the attention they had received. "It's easy for us to get noticed, we're on every garbage truck in town," Cate said.