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People of Cessnock is a blog by local resident, Rebecca Murray. The project seeks to value the people of her home town by sharing their stories value and raising the profile of people living outside metropolitan areas.

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"I was involved in a lot of things. I used to coordinate the maintenance at church and I’d be going to all the meetings. But then when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer I stopped everything because the professor said, “Look, you need to clear yourself.”

So I said, right. I’ve cancelled everything. I’ve got no commitments at all.

And so when the treatment was over, the last radiologists comment was, “Well, Bill, back to normal?”

And I said, “No, I’m not going to do anything normal. I’m going to make use of my new lease on life.”

I thought, OK. The three grandchildren up here ...  their mother needs to be away two or three nights a week (sometimes more) for work. So, her mother looks after them or we have them occasionally. And so I thought, I want to get involved in their lives and the best way I can do it is to join the P&C at Ellalong.

My wife was talking to my daughter on the phone while I was at the meeting and she said, “Dad’s gone to the P&C meeting. I bet he comes home president.” And I walked in the door and she said, “President?”

I said, “Yeah.”

We’ve been doing a lot of work in the canteen and I arranged a meeting with Clayton Barr because the school was lacking a lot of proper toilet facilities and all sorts of things. I’ve still got a copy of the letter he sent to me with all of these photographs that he sent to the minister saying it was disgusting, etc. And I was so pleased cause then he sent me a little note saying it looks like we’re getting somewhere.

So, anyway, we’re in the throes of getting a new brick toilet block up there. And a lot of painting has been done.

It’s nice. I feel connected, because I’m out there talking to people."

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