Before the big day, Jim Agnew knew that he would be too emotional to deliver his thankyou speech; consequently his grandson, Dennie Wilde, spoke on his behalf. An edited version of Mr Agnew’s speech is below.
Thank you everyone for coming here today to celebrate this wonderful occasion.
There are many people I would like to thank for their support and faith in me in achieving this goal.
Marge Morton was my first secretary when we had this notion of an ambulance station and health centre. As with many government promises, only the ambulance station was realised.
That’s when I got the bit between my teeth and started pushing for a health centre. Susan Howland then took over Marge’s job for a while and we became the Yamba Health Facilities Working Group.
Then along came ‘Mabel’, otherwise known as Libby Cotter, who has been my secretary since 2007. She is still helping me with things; even though I have threatened to dock her wages when I got it wrong. Her wages are zero, anyway.
In the years leading up to getting the health centre, I believe I dealt with over seven health ministers. It was very difficult to get any concrete answers with a revolving door in state parliament.
When Steve Cansdell and ‘Mighty Mouse’, Janelle Saffin, were in office, they worked together to arrange funds for the health centre.
Chris Crawford was also a great support and listened to any concerns I had. The Northern Area Health Board has been marvellous in their support, along with the construction and planning sections of Northern Area Health Service.
I must also mention those people at Maclean Hospital who have given me support, including Dan Madden, Paul Schofield and Anne Farrell, and the staff at the hospital. The Maclean Hospital Auxiliary has been absolutely wonderful.
The Rotary Club of Maclean has been behind me in most of my achievements and, in particular, Paul O’Halloran.
Geoff Helisma from the Independent has always listened to what I have to say and given me plenty of space in the newspaper to explain what I want to achieve.
I do sincerely apologise if I have left out thanking someone. Please realise it is not intentional and I do thank you, whoever you are.
Having said that, I cannot go without thanking the knockers who have spurred me on to prove them wrong.
Finally I would like to thank the community as a whole. When I called for volunteers, you came out from every direction, especially John Crotty. The community were the ones who worked on the gardens at the ambulance station, assisted with petitions and did all other voluntary jobs.
This includes the widening of the bridge into Yamba, the ambulance station, the extended car park and ramp at the hospital and the health centre. I am proud of those achievements but also proud of this community and its ability to come together.
Sadly, my wife Grace and I are leaving the area and moving back to Warren to be near our family. We will miss all our friends, but it is something we must do.
As one great person said, ‘whenever you leave a place, it should be better than when you arrived’. I believe that I have done that here in the Lower Clarence.
May your God bless you and keep you well.