Juanita Wilson is a passionate Tamworth councillor, who’s worked extensively across education. Meet today’s Face of Tamworth.
Family: I’m Married to Leigh and have four grown children: Sturt, Georgina, Prue and Tom. Georgie and Tom are living in Tamworth.
When did you come to Tamworth, and what did you do before council?
As a child, Tamworth was a great place in which to grow up. I had absolute freedom to roam: I rode, hiked, climbed the hills and swam in the river and town pool. The only limitation was “The five o’clock whistle” which the laundry blew every weekday at five. Being home at the five o’clock whistle was totally non negotiable for most kids then!
After school and before college, I worked in Tamworth; predominantly in medical practices and also the hospital. I was also an Air hostess - as the result of a dare! Air sickness made it a fairly unattractive career path for me!
Later, on a whim, I hitchhiked to Papua New Guinea! It was on an unlined Patair plane which was being serviced in Tamworth.
I just rang the airport, asked for the captain, asked when he was returning to PNG, and could I go too?
He said “Two weeks; yes you can”! It was a freezing overnight ride!
Some things are easy! It couldn’t happen now!
I worked, hiked and caved in Port Moresby and the Highlands. Loved the place! The Wahgi Valley where I walked up through the mountain villages is currently suffering devastation from the recent earthquakes.
Next I graduated in Education at Armidale. Our first great post was Burren Junction.
I have recently retired from Education.
Why did you decide to make your life in Tamworth?
We returned to Tamworth because family was here, and it is full of great people, schools, sporting opportunities and country.
I wanted the children to have the same sense of belonging that I had. Those who grow up in Tamworth, or spend some time here, have a strong sense of ownership for the place and feel that wherever they are, Tamworth remains their “soul home.”
When and why did you become interested in council?
The start of my interest in council was as an eight year old. The river flats between the bridges were covered in reeds and scrub and I thought the council should turn them into sports fields. They did.
When my youngest son was seven, I was ready to contribute to the city I love so much so stood for council.
I served one five-year term on Tamworth City Council and am currently serving my third term on Tamworth Regional Council.
It’s very rewarding to be in a position to help shape the future.
What are you passionate about?
- The Airport
I have always thought that the Airport was Tamworth’s “Sleeping Giant”! It has huge potential to deliver to Tamworth substantial benefits for a secure future. Opportunities include air transport, pilot training, aircraft maintenance and freight transportation. Also possible are aero related engineering, training and industry with both a national and international focus.
- Strong Sound urban planning and vibrant City Centre.
Well designed developments and subdivisions that facilitate a sense of community for families and individuals within their neighbourhood. It. This needs to Include attractive, tree lined roads systems supported by park and recreational facilities. Good design is more than just the maximum number of houses crammed in a subdivision. This is critical for all the towns in our region. Planning - good or bad - is the unshakable legacy a council leaves.
- To Facilitate strong growth in business, industry, education and health.
That is what promotes growth in jobs and a future for our youth within our region.
- Cultural depth in the arts, and public art.
This is what enlivens, sparks, and inspires us. Our youth need it. Definitely needed is a new Performing Arts Centre. It is the work that brings many to Tamworth and our region, but it is its Soul, depth and Friendships that keep them here.
What do you love most about Tamworth?
I particularly love the hills -the Wentworth Mounds. They are a magical backdrop to Tamworth, forever changing. They offer both a sense of freedom and a sense of security. Tamworth nestles under those hills.
Also, Tamworth has a slight sense of precociousness which says: “ if it can be done, we can do it better!”
Our forefathers left us that. It stands us in good stead but at times requires courage!
You know you’re in Tamworth when...
You catch sight of the lights at the end of a long trip home.
And...when people give you a friendly smile in the shops, or just walking past!