Pink Waves

A chance email from the Cancer Council which asked the question “What are YOU doing to help raise funds and awareness?” that Courtney had her “ah-ha” moment and knew she what she could do.

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It was a magical day down at Dixon Park Beach today – friendly crowds, artisan markets and men wearing bright pink bras, while competing with each other for the best ridden wave.
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Orchestrating all this is Courtney Bower, calmly keeping the day running smoothly all with a big smile and a cheerful hello.

Courtney is a regular at surfing competitions – her partner Marlenn Guihot is a keen longboarder. While they love attending competitions they always found themselves imagining the things they would do differently if they were to run an event.

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Courtney and Marlenn

Courtney’s mother, at 47, was diagnosed with breast cancer and this motivated Courtney to get involved.

But it wasn’t until one day, while reading an email from the Cancer Council that asked the question What are YOU doing to help raise funds and awareness? that Courtney had her “ah-ha” moment and knew what she could do to help.

Courtney and Marlenn have created an annual surfing event to raise awareness about breast cancer and generate funds and support for Cancer Council’s Pink Ribbon.
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They were actually on their way back from that same long boarding competition in 2015 when they came up with the name of the event – Tubes 4 Boobs!

“Its a fun name, but not in away to be taken as a joke,” Courtney tells us. “It’s all about raising awareness and starting the conversation.”

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Volunteer Ann and Courtney

The event runs for two days, with short board comp on Saturday and the Long Board comp on Sunday. A fun crowd favorite is the lunchtime session where all competitors have to wear bras whilst surfing.

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Tubes 4 Boobs target fundraising goal for 2015 was $10,000 – but incredibly that target was doubled with the event raising just over $20,000.

The target for 2016 was $20,000 and Courtney is hoping this target will be met today as well.

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The boys all in their gear!


Ted Bassingthwaighte is the Toobs 4 Boobs top fundraiser and also the Digital Media Manager for the event, but he tells us, “Courtney is the spear head of everything for the day!” Courtney laughs, “Well you’re the feathers. Can’t shoot straight without feathers!”

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Courtney and Ted before the presentation today.


“Its such a great day to bring the community together. All while raising funds and having a laugh,” Courtney tells us.

“And how is your mother doing these days?” We ask.

“She’s fine… She kicked Cancer’s butt!” Courtney happily replies.

This fun, popular and successful event is such an inspirational feat and the Newcastle couple are hoping to form a committee for 2017 to make the event even “bigger and better.”

Villager Property – Community, Style, Local, Real Estate – Home Begins Here

Going once, Going twice…

Leon turns work into fun and entertainment; bringing a smile to the crowd and a sold sticker to the signboard.

During his previous career as an agent in commercial real estate, Leon Axford attended his first auction. Watching the excitement build and the energy circulate around the crowd – Leon knew he had found his calling and pursed his dream.

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Leon is now the director of his own company Axford Auctions and calls up to 500 Auctions a year; covering residential, commercial, industrial and retail real estate.

“Calling auctions is my only calling.” Leon testifies.

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Asking Leon what he brings to the Auction scene, he replies enthusiastically with a big grin “I’m a creative person, and I like to bring my own flair to the auctions I call, a little joke here, a story there…”

Leon turns work into fun and entertainment; bringing a smile to the crowd and a sold sticker to the signboard.

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Fun is not only vibrantly running through his auction style, but his personal style as well.

A snappy dresser, we are yet to see Leon wear the same pair of socks – spreading smiles with an array of happy accessories.

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Leon is working exclusively with Villager Property, complementing our marketing campaigns to deliver beautiful style with exceptional and consistent results.

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For example, last Sunday Villager Property held 3 Auction properties in succession and all three were successfully sold; a testament to an exceptional team!

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“There are two types of bidders I see a lot, those that test the water with their toe and slowly wade into the water… and those that jump right in straight away! Its all good fun though!” Leon tells us as we wander down Darby Street.

But if the water is as nice as a Newcastle Beach then all that matters is that you go wet, really!

Home begins with Villager Property – Buying or Selling? Give us a call. Click here for details. 

 

Meredith’s Hive

Meredith’s goal in her principalship is to effect positive change and enrich the children’s learning experience with music, art and entertainment.

Arriving at the Carrington Primary School you will notice many bees around the grounds. Not the kind that will sting you though – the kind that will encourage you. 

“Our mantra here is to be a learner, be safe, be respectful and be kind,” Meredith tells us.  The happy little hive here have embraced the bee as their mascot.

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“Its lovely, the students often make and bring me little bee gifts. The students with the most bee cards at the end of the month gets to have morning tea with the principal,” she continues.

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Meredith Lindsay has been the Principal of Carrington Primary School since 2013 and her focus here is on providing a broad spectrum of education.

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Meredith grew up in Kurri Kurri and briefly lived interstate as well as in Sydney, eventually returning to Newcastle with her husband and three children because, “It’s just too nice of a place not to live here!”

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Always a high achiever, Meredith was drawn to management early in life – starting her career with Drake Employment in Sydney, it wasn’t long before she was the Manager of her team at only twenty years old.

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Returning to Newcastle Meredith worked with Park Royal Hotels and after what she calls, “brutal training in service and management,” she was promoted to Manager there within three years also.

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After her children were born, Meredith decided to attend University to gain her Teaching degree. She would take her small children along to uni with her and they would sit diligently throughout lectures, which turned out wonderfully for both Meredith and her studious children, “My youngest daughter could read and write by four years old and coincidentally she is at uni now!”

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When asked about her transition from teacher to principal she replies, “ It was through a lot of hard work and dedication.”


Meredith’s goal through her Principalship is to affect positive change and enrich the children’s learning experience with music, art and entertainment. 

“High engagement in activities means the kids love to come to school,” explains Meredith. “I want to expose them to these things because you don’t know what you like until you are exposed to it.”

Meredith has programs for students to regulate their own behaviour and learning – the children have personal learning goals which promotes self driven learning.

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“I have built my Principalship on kids respecting themselves, the community, the environment and their goals,” she adds.

Since her appointment, Carrington Public School has achieved their best NAPLAN results to date and the growth rate in Grades 3 to 5 has been well above state average.

“21st Century learning is about critical thinking and problem solving,” Meredith tells us. “ I have an open door policy for all staff and students – but I urge them not to come to me with a problem, but with a solution.”

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The school embraces such programs as a Chess Club – with which they are about to represent the school at semi-finals; Coding Club for young IT enthusiasts; craft; didgeridoo lessons; yoga and stretch classes for all interested students at lunch times and a student managed vegetable garden and chicken run.



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Giving is a strong value that Meredith and the school also work towards and part of that is to raise money, “We are raising money this week with the Art Exhibition on Thursday night. I want to show the children that you can make a difference through giving, though art and through music. That way they understand that they have the power within them.”

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When we asked Meredith what she does to relax and have fun, she smiles, “I am an academic at heart and I really do learn for fun. I guess I am most happy with a cup of tea and a research paper.”

A keen interest in health, nutrition and food science is another of Meredith’s passions. 

“I am quite known around the staff to always encourage everyone to eat their fresh fruit and veggies,” Meredith laughs as we discuss the school’s Swap It healthy eating program.

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“I really do love the community here at Carrington, we really are just like a little village and I don’t think I have ever met a more supportive and inclusive community.”

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Love where you live? Contact Villager Property and discuss with us today how you can live and love local. 



In Sofia’s Kitchen

“We all have differences, but hey, lets embrace them! ” Sophie says in her bubbly tone.

Writing and Education are a large part of Sophie’s calling, but true to her own heritage – so is excellent food.

From the time Sophie Stokes was 7 years old, she was in the kitchen with her Greek-Australian relatives preparing treats to serve to her large family and many friends.

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For Sophie, this inclusive and vibrant environment ignited a passion for both food and learning, a passion she still follows boldly today.

We were lucky to be invited when Sophie recently held a large get together at her home showcasing her cultural culinary prowess; Sophie hosts with a broad, engaging smile and a warmth to her welcome as though you are family.

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With a background in Early Childhood education, when it came time to send her own girls off to school – Sophie elected to home school them.

“My thing is creative education, I call it Imagination Activation!” Sophie explains. This took the family around the world, making travel journals, discovering new cultures…  with a fair dose of learning in the kitchen too.

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8 years ago the family moved to Newcastle for work and university opportunities for the children, and have found the city so versatile, multicultural and beautiful that they absolutely love living here. Not to mention the great foodie options for Sophie!

Recently, Sophie’s children completed their homeschooling and it was time for a new chapter.

“It was time for me to have a new impact on the world,” she tells us.

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Source: Exousia Publishing

In 2015 Sophie donated some resource books to Mebaya Orphanage in Tanzania, to help them establish their education programs and the orphanage invited her to come to Tanzania to assist.

While in Africa, Sophie was speaking with Elina Karamelina and was discussing the resources the Tanzanian children had – often donated books in English about Santa and snowy winters.

After this talk an idea was born.

“It was a spur of the moment conversation with Elina really and 8 months later we were publishing our own children’s book,” says Sophie.

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Kula Chakula is Hungry! was created to honor the cultures of the children in Africa and also as a celebration of the languages spoken locally and in surrounding countries. The book is written in Swahili, as well as English and Greek.

The book has had a wonderful response with African educators loving their new resource.

“Actually, I just shipped a whole box of books to Athens for an art conference there and I am so excited that Greek children will be learning about the Swahili language and African Culture too,” Sophie tells us excitedly, “and I have been honored to do a few readings of the book in local Newcastle preschools too.”

“We all have differences, but hey – lets embrace them!” Sophie says in her bubbly tone.

Writing and education are a large part of Sophie’s calling but, true to her own heritage, so is excellent food.

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This led Sophie to start food blogging at In Sofia’s Kitchen, a journey of hospitality written through recipes and adventures. The success of this blog has led to a cookbook, In Sofia’s Kitchen: Mediterranean Flavours Down Under, which is launching in Newcastle on November 26th, in true Sofia’s Kitchen Style – with lots of friends, food, culture and celebration.

Sophie would like all to feel welcome to attend the launch if you would like to pick up a copy and enjoy some of the tasty samples like these on offer.

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And what is next for Sophie? So much!

A new multicultural children’s book is underway being published in both English and Norwegian (thanks to her Norwegian illustrator) and Sophie will be working on another cookbook and cooking workshops.

“I’m looking forward to the continued journey – delighting families and friends through food and hospitality,” Sophie tells us.

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Served up to you by Villager Property – because Home Begins Here.

 

Brain Sports with Dr Gardner

A local rugby player had suffered concussion during a game and was ready to play again the next day, when an MRI conducted by Dr Andrew J. Gardner changed the course of his season.

“Another Concussion on-top of a concussion can be serious,” Dr Gardner tells us. “Its all about managing risk versus benefit.

A local rugby player had suffered concussion during a game and was ready to play again the next day, when an MRI conducted by Dr Andrew J. Gardner changed the course of his season.

“Another concussion on top of a concussion can be serious,” Dr Gardner tells us. “It’s all about managing risk versus benefit. The player made a full recovery and is very thankful for all the treatment we’ve done with him.”

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This situation is part of Dr Gardner’s daily work life: working full-time as a Clinical Neuropsychologist, the co-director of the HNE local sports concussion clinic and also contracted to be the consultant for the Australian Rugby Union’s Concussion Advisory Board.

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From junior teams through to professional players and then post sports career, Andrew is focused on looking after the welfare of athletes.

“I have started my own business, Neurogard,  which delivers pre-season baseline and post-concussion neuropsychological assessment for athletes of all ages and sports.”

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Andrew grew up in Teralba then attended the University of New England in Armidale to complete his Bachelor of Psychology, followed by completing his Doctorate in Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology) at Macquarie University in Sydney and finally returning to Newcastle to complete his PHD in the School of Medicine and Health at the University of Newcastle.

Andrew’s thesis for his PHD on the acute and cumulative consequences of sport’s concussion in semi-professonal rugby players won the prestigious award for The Most Outstanding Dissertation for 2011 from the National Academy of Neuropsychology in the USA – the first and only time the honour has been awarded to a student outside of North America.

Dr Gardner’s academic excellency, among numerous other prestigious awards, has seen him gain fellowships to Harvard Medical School, where he was able to gain incredible contacts within the field of traumatic brain injury research.

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“The best thing about Boston of course, is getting to see my Red Sox play!” Andrew tells us as he shows off his screen saver of his time in the box seats at Fenway Park and points out “The Green Monster”.

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“I was only just yesterday watching the Red Sox win their 6-5 victory over the Yankees,” he says as he quickly replays the win on his desktop, the excitement still new. “I may have been yelling – just a bit!”

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 “I’ve always been involved in sports, from playing to following the games,” Andrew tells us. Although his love for sports has been rivalled by his drive for academic success.

“In 2008 and 2009 I was playing Premier League Bowls when I had to make the decision to quit playing and focus on the transition into full time academia,” Andrew says, “and that can be a hard thing to come to terms with. It forces you to redefine who you are.”

Andrew understands the importance of a sports career and helps players and patients through tough journeys when they have to give up a career early due to injury and rehabilitate their life.

This continues to drive him to sit up until the early hours some nights researching and working.

“I can sit up most nights, I just get lost in it,” he tells us. “I love what I do and believe I have these skills and this passion for a reason.”

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Andrew’s itinerary is full of upcoming speeches he will be giving at high profile conferences around the world; papers and books he is writing; all the while continuing to develop his research into problems associated with sports concussion in athletes.

Looking at his extensive list, we ask how he manages the complexity of his commitments and he assures us it is with ease.

“My job is also my hobby, only I get paid to do it – but if I wasn’t… I would be doing it anyway,” he smiles. “I’m meant to do this.”

Andrew’s genuine character, enthusiasm and passion is revealed as he speaks about the wonders of the brain. For Andrew, his field is his calling – his patients and players are in safe hands.

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Dr Andrew J. Gardner will be one of our guest speakers at Meet The Villagers on September 22, 2016 where everyone is invited to join in the fun to hear 6 speakers with 6 mins each to talk about their field of expertise. All funds raised going to charity. For tickets click here. 

Proudly brought to you by Villager Property 

Mark Hughes- A foundation of Support

There are many reasons to love the Newcastle community, but Marks story reminds us of the incredibly supportive environment in which we live.

It’s a sunny August morning in Hamilton and we’ve stopped in to catch up with Mark Hughes.

We have a chat about beanies, gratitude, the Kokoda trail and a magic ball.

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There are many reasons to love the Newcastle community, but Marks story reminds us of the incredibly supportive environment in which we live.

Mark grew up in the town of Kurri Kurri before moving to Newcastle to play for the Knights. He now resides in the beachside community of Merewether with his wife Kiralee and their 3 children.

“I love living in Newcastle,” Mark says. “It really does have that big community feel.”

Mark played for the Newcastle Knights from 1997 until 2005, and played for the NSW State of Origin team in 2001, thus making Mark a celebrated Novocastrian.

After seeing a doctor about recurring headaches, in 2013 at the age of 36, Mark was diagnosed with brain cancer. An emotional journey that brought his family and community close together, banding for support.

Mark and Kiralee subsequently began the Mark Hughes Foundation. The foundation partners with the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), raising funds to help find a cure for brain cancer. In January 2016  The Foundation appointed a Brain Cancer Care Nurse within the John Hunter Hospital.

“The Brain Cancer Care Nurse is focused 100% on the brain cancer patients at John Hunter Hospital,” Mark informs us. “A great support for patients to have a nurse that is committed to their condition.”

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The Foundation has raised over $250,000 through the MHF Beanies for Brain Cancer fundraiser, hosted the Magic Ball with over 600 local participants, organised charity auctions, received donations from numerous local families and businesses and has even had Paul “The Chief” Harrigan going on the national TV program Im A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to win $50,000 for the cause.

The response from the community is a massive source of inspiration for Mark, Kiralee and the MHF who work tirelessly to offer support for brain cancer patients and their families.

Sitting on the sunny deck of Mark’s Hamilton office, we talk about the importance of the foundation, “Our biggest goal of course is to find a cure – but we are also aiming for more awareness of brain cancer,” Mark says. “Brain cancer is the biggest killer of people under 40 – more than any other cancer – and we need more attention to this in the media and more funding for research.”

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Mark and 17 others recently completed a Kokoda Trail “Coast to Coast” challenge: riding 130kms from the Northern tip of Papua New Guinea to the track, trekking the 100km trail and then riding another 70kms to Port Moresby.

“It was physically and emotionally challenging – yeah it was hard,” said Mark, “but I was also inspired to be with those 17 others and raising $150,000 for the foundation.”

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Mark Huges on the Kokoda Trail. Picture by James Brickwood for Fairfax.

Since beginning his journey with brain cancer, the overwhelming story of support for Mark and the Foundation is what really stands out.

The Newcastle community, and national community too, reaching out with assistance and funding.

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Here at Villager Property, Mark’s foundation is very important to us, especially for our Villager Rod, who donates $500 from every sale commission (currently totalling $3,000) to MHF in honour of his nephew, a young brain cancer survivor.

“We have great support from the community,” Mark tells us, “and I do tackle every day as it comes – but I am very lucky and I am very grateful.”

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