Unsung hero Bernie’s dial on the cover of new phonebooks

ARMIDALE’S Bernie Shakeshaft has been chosen as the face of this year’s “new look” regional White Pages and Yellow Pages, which will start arriving at households from this weekend.

The man behind the BackTrack program for troubled youth was selected under the theme Inspiring Others to Achieve, which “recognises the unsung heroes who selflessly help others achieve goals and are an inspiration to their local community”.

White Pages product manager Sarah Simpson said this year’s covers celebrated humble community members who didn’t always get the recognition they deserved.

“We wanted to honour these local legends who sometimes hide in the shadows and elevate them to a place where everyone can celebrate them,” she said.

“This year we are thrilled to recognise Bernie’s efforts inspiring his community.”

The BackTrack program was established by Mr Shakeshaft in 2006 to offer young people “who had lost their way” an opportunity to reconnect with their education and training, become work-ready and eventually find a job.

“It’s fantastic to see young people who once felt alone and isolated turn their lives around to become valued members of the community,” he said. 

“I’m really proud they have chosen a path to a better future.” 

There are a number of programs under the BackTrack banner including PawsUp, which helps teach young people self-discipline through dog training, and it’s a couple of the four-legged members of the team who join Mr Shakeshaft on the phone book cover.

Ms Simpson said following customer feedback, the White and Yellow Pages would now be distributed in a new “ideal” size and page layout, which “would be easier to handle, use and store”.

Mr Shakeshaft follows last year’s covergirl Armidale resident Sarah McFarlane-Eagle, the 2012/13 “face” Tamworth resident Helen Lesley and Tamworth’s Max Ellis in 2011/12.

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