IF THERE’s a face that springs to mind when you think of the term ‘community spirit’, it’s Helen Tickle’s.
The newly elected deputy mayor of Tamworth Regional Council has been in the chair for just over a month, and with that has been thrust into the spotlight when called on to undertake mayoral duties.
She has lived in Tamworth for about 30 years and has spent the past eight serving as a councillor.
Cr Tickle is no stranger to life in regional NSW, having grown up in Dungog, and lived in Cowra, Gunnedah and Tamworth following teaching studies in Sydney.
With a passion for education, health and disability, and aged care services in the community, Cr Tickle says she had plenty of reasons for becoming a councillor in the first place..
“I’ve always been very involved in the community and becoming a councillor I wanted to be involved further and to help progress the communities, both large and small communities,” she said.
Cr Tickle arrived in Tamworth in 1986, to help establish TAFE’s tourism and hospitality department.
It was from there that her work in the community began.
“I grew up on the land in rural area Dungog in the Hunter Valley and because I did come from a small community and was raised out of town as well, I do understand the issues that smaller communities have, because I grew up in one,” she said.
“We all have the common aim of growing a very strong regional centre and that keeps me going.
“To see that the region is growing strongly, which embraces the smaller communities as well – to keep growing regional centres to create jobs and opportunities, to make it a desirable and attractive place for people to come and live and work.
“And we’ve seen that we are attracting all levels of staff and in particular we have the professional staff, we have the jobs here now.”
Cr Tickle said the region had certainly changed since she arrived 30 years ago, with opportunities to entice those moving to metropolitan areas back to the country.
“It is a very attractive place to live,” she said.
“When I first came here it was difficult for people to relocate back to country areas because there weren’t the opportunities, but there are a lot more opportunities here now as well.
“If we have quality health services you will attract people as well, also culture services, we need sporting services here and a breadth of activities for people as well, and for all age groups,” she said.
In addition to her role as councillor, Cr Tickle has worn many hats over the years.
She’s was involved with the Tamworth Serendipity Committee for 16 years and she’s currently on the board of the Rotary Club of Tamworth First Light.
She was the first female president of the Tamworth Business Chamber and is currently the chair of the Tamworth Health Committee and Council’s disability access working group.
And that’s just skimming the surface.