The Northern Daily Leader's Haley Craig shares her top five stories of the year

2017, what a year!

It gave me great pleasure to be able to deliver you plenty of great stories this year.

Many were tales of triumph, while others were stories that provoked tears.

Perhaps some of my favourites from the year were the ones that brought our community together and showed how close we all really are.

While there might be many stories to share, here are five of my personal favourites I covered in The Northern Daily Leader in 2017.

1. CAPERS cancelled, then on again

Concerned parents had contacted me after the biennial performing arts event CAPERS was called off because of financial reasons. Many parent body leaders and teachers were upset that country kids did not have the chance to take their talents to the stage and this caused a great deal of outcry among local residents. Within days of running the initial story of the cancellation shock, I received a call from a parent who confirmed the show was reinstated. 

2. Drew’s NDIS heartache

A Nundle man with Muscular Dystrophy was told he was unable to gain funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme because he was able to walk a short distance. It was heart breaking for Drew Schofield who was forced to call in an independent assessor to confirm to the agency he was indeed eligible for the scheme. Shortly after The Leader contacted the NDIS, Mr Schofield  received a call reconfirming his eligibility. It truly was a heart warming story.

3. Paramedics in maintenance dispute 

It was the catalyst for a campaign that sparked months of stories and ultimately a meeting between the Australian Paramedics Association and Ambulance NSW over maintenance issues at New England stations. The union had claimed that urgent issues and safety factors were not being addressed by the hierarchy. This led to a series of meetings between our front-line emergency services worker and ultimately diffused the problem.

4. When the country stars hack into your phone

While at a local coffee shop ready to interview lovable country star Adam Brand about his Tamworth Country Music Festival roles, I can not forget the hilarity when giving my phone to Mr Brand to go live with our followers on Facebook… it’s safe to say the tables were turned on me! Check out the video below of Mr Brand in action – a true showman and an all-round top bloke. 

5. When the community jumps in to help

This story is a work in progress. Late this year I started a series of stories on a concerted campaign by the Tamworth Mental Health Carers Support Group and MP Kevin Anderson for urgent upgrades to the Tamworth Hospital Mental Health Unit also known as Banksia. The support group have now gathered 6000 signatures towards a petition with 10,000 needed for a response from the NSW Government on the issue. Many people have told the carers group they’d sign the petition “100 times over” if they could.  Watch this space.