THE Samaritans Christmas Day lunch in Singleton has been the centre of many people’s Christmas Day for more than a decade, but this year it was not held because there was not one person who was willing to be the supervisor.
This once-a-year lunch has previously attracted more than 100 people from all sections of our society, and all walks of life.
The work of the volunteers was exceptional and made the day happen in the past. They ensured the guests were comfortable and fully catered for.
I went to the venue at the time folk would be arriving. There was not a notice on the door and people did turn up. Some did not realise the lunch was not on. Others had heard, but were not sure. I had to turn them all away. One gentleman told me the Christmas lunch was the only time someone else made a meal for him. He ate at a table with others and people talked to him. This made him feel very special and he waited one year to the next.
I was very shocked and amazed when the Samaritans staff member informed me that no one, not one person, had applied to undertake this task. She also said that their staff in Singleton and Newcastle were unable to organise the event as they were busy with their clients.
It was only with the amazing support of many sponsors that the function became possible, and I do hope we can look to them again in the future.
As the greeting elf, I have my costume ready. The lunch must return bigger and better than ever, which would be fantastic but offers little compensation to those who did not have a Christmas lunch in 2017.
Gary Holland, Singleton
NOBBYS LOOKS BETTER
ON A scorching Christmas Eve, I took my pup to Horseshoe Beach and checked out the recent upgrades to Nobbys Pavilion. I have to say that I was impressed.
The new parking layout, made possible by the Supercars event, works exceptionally well. Horseshoe Beach was clean, and lots of dogs and their owners were enjoying the opportunity to escape the heat.
Walking back towards Nobbys, the new toilets and introduction of a higher frequency cleaning schedule have improved the amenity of the facilities. Extra wide stalls provide private change rooms while the nearby Newcastle Baths continue to offer full changing sheds and indoor showers.
With heritage constraints, child safety concerns and hygiene improvements needed, council staff have done well to design renovations which meet the needs of the vast majority of beach users.
The new bar and function space as part of the surf club also proved popular and will no doubt become a favourite place to enjoy our fantastic beach and harbour entrance.
Declan Clausen, deputy lord mayor
AN UNWELCOME CHANGE
IT is regrettable that Newcastle Council has not seen fit to provide the community with change rooms at Nobbys Beach. The upgrade of the facilities, including extra toilets is welcome. However, the loss of the change rooms is a tragedy.
In an era where we are fighting obesity in the community, every effort to make exercise accessible is to be lauded. Every summer I have swum at Nobbys Beach before work, showering and changing in the provided facilities. The facilities were well utilised by parents with children, school children swimming after school, and other adults such as myself swimming before and after work.
The shower facilities and change room are missed, and I can no longer swim at Nobbys Beach. It is not acceptable to change in a smelly toilet cubicle. I must swim now at Dixon Park where there are facilities to shower and change in private. However I note, with dismay, the recently announced planned upgrade to facilities at Dixon Park.
Please return the change rooms to Nobbys Beach. Please do not remove the change rooms at Dixon Park Beach.
Jacqueline Davison, Birmingham Gardens
WE’RE NEVER OUTGUNNED
I CAN understand Ray Dinneen’s thoughts (Letters 26/12) but I believe we need to give Newcastle more credit for what it offers cruise ship visitors.
As one of many volunteers at Fort Scratchley, we get to talk to a wide range of visitors. Around 400 passengers off the Pacific Jewel visited the fort earlier this month and were impressed by what both the fort and Newcastle in general had to offer.
The most recurrent comment was that they did not realise how lovely the area was, and many believed they would return for a more detailed visit.
The sight of many hundreds of passengers lining the decks and cheering as the fort’s gun fired a farewell salute cannot be experienced anywhere else in Australia, and possibly in the world.
Frank Carter, Fort Scratchley Historical Society president
HE’S GOOD, BUT NO DON
ANY comparison between Steve Smith or any batsman of the modern era to Don Bradman can be quickly dispatched to the boundary. Today we have drop-in pitches, massive bats, shorter boundaries, extra protective equipment and a team of doctors, physios, mind gurus and enough support crew to win World War III, never mind a game of cricket on placid wickets.
If you are a cricket fan, do yourself a favour and visit the Bradman Museum at the Adelaide Oval. Then you may be able to appreciate what Bradman achieved both on and off the field. He and Jack Brabham are the two greatest sportsman that we have had, in my opinion.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
TIME TO ACT ON RED ZONE
WELL it has finally happened (“Going under”, Herald 22/12). Anita Bugges is the first home owner in the red zone at Williamtown to lose her home after years of working hard for herself, her daughter and her grandson. She is now forced to rent and has a huge mortgage. As Ms Bugges says, she is the first but she won’t be the last. This is a disgrace. The Williamtown base knew for some years about the contamination, and it seems every MP and council member has visited the site. Still, nothing is being done.
Meanwhile, people are becoming sick and dying of various cancers. What do people have to do to get the attention of authorities and resolve this problem before it’s too late? These properties and unsaleable, unrentable and unliveable.