GOOD NEWS: 15 southwest stories from 2020 that gave us hope
This year has been filled with news about COVID-19, local crime, and the struggles the world has been facing.
But there has been some good, heartwarming news as well.
Here are 15 positive stories from the Western Star and the Western Times that gave us hope:
Maddy Thomas’ angelic voice has been one of the southwest’s best kept secrets, until now.
The sixteen-year-old Roma singer-songwriter has stunned a nation with her incredible musical talent, appearing on The Voice Australia on Monday night and wowing the show’s judges in her blind audition round.
Three of the show’s four judges - all famous musicians in their own right - turned their iconic spinning seats to learn Miss Thomas’ identity and claim the chance to mentor her in the singing competition.
When Violent Soho’s vocalist Luke Boerdam had the opportunity to film in Southwest Queensland with his band, he knew that it was a part of the world he wanted to visit again.
The internationally renowned Brisbane-based rock band filmed the video for their latest single Slow Down Sonic around St George, including some parts at the Australian Hotel Motel.
With their Australiana-drenched style of pop-punk infused grunge, the band felt the vibe of the song was suited to outback Australia, and Boerdam said they wanted to film as far away from the city as they could.
One little outback Queensland motel, situated over 600km from the coastline has trumped several other well-known accommodation hot spots and landed themselves in the top 10 per cent of hospitality businesses in the world.
The Roma Central Motel has been recognised among the best in the world based on outstanding traveller reviews.
Hosts, Helen and Charlie Eames said they were “proud as punch” to be recognised for the third consecutive year.
“We just want to thank our wonderful guests for their kind reviews,” Mr Eames said.
“The best part is that it was based on guest reviews and TripAdvisor is now the old-fashioned way of word of mouth, which has really helped our business.”
Over 80 foster kids across the Darling Downs and southwest will be in for a nice Christmas surprise after a generous donation from the Maranoa Motorcyclists Toy Run.
This year’s event had 49 motorbike enthusiasts ride down the streets of Roma at 8.30am on November 28, equipped with Christmas presents for the kids.
Roma police sergeant Sebastian Pollock led the way, from Bassett Park to the town centre and along to the Clay Target Club.
A diverse range of motorbikes, big and small, followed along for the ride.
Even now young Jack Cameron continues to make this world a better place through Jack’s Last Gift.
Several businesses in town are rallying behind Sarah and Nick Cameron’s fundraiser for Epilepsy Queensland, a cause that’s close to their hearts.
Sharni Beck, owner of Frankie Wilde, knew the Cameron family and is donating $10 from each scarf to the fundraiser until close of business on Saturday, June 13.
Jaxx Whittaker may be small in size, but he has a huge heart when it comes to paying his respects to our Australian war heroes.
Although Jaxx is disappointed he won’t be able to participate in the Anzac Day march past parade this year, he wanted to do something special to commemorate the soldiers who fought for our country.
The 5-year-old student at Mitchell State School has been home schooled by his mum, Sally for the past week and after he saw his classmates had been making poppy wreaths at school, he wanted to join in the activity from home.
Using materials from his dad’s shed, Jaxx spent the whole day making the memorial piece out of paper plates, paint and tin which now stands proudly at the family’s letterbox in Mitchell.
Acts of kindness can have a domino effect, which is the case of one woman who saw how excited her elderly parents were to receive a meal voucher and inspired her to spread the incentive as far as she could.
Manager of Cafe 54, Terri Radunz said it started when Maranoa Regional Council and Chandra Yoga and Wellbeing put together some isolation care packages for the elderly and those struggling in the community.
In the packages included a $10 voucher to spend at Cafe 54.
“We had a customer whose parents received a pack and they were so excited to receive the meal voucher,” she said.
“The daughter thought it was a great incentive and wanted to pay it forward and do something for the community.”
FOR the past 15 years, Jessica Rowlings has been growing her hair.
This Saturday, alongside her brother and parents, all those inches will go towards making wigs for cancer patients, as the family participates in the World’s Greatest Shave.
Mum Janet said the family had known close friends impacted by leukaemia and decided this year they wanted to do something to help.
“We have personally known several families impacted by leukaemia and we all wanted to do something,” she said.
“People look at me like I’m mad when I say I’m shaving my hair off.
“But it’s just hair, it will grow back. This is just something we can do as a family to help others.”
One of Roma’s homegrown heroes has been selected to play for the North Queensland Cowboys after being raised by the Wallumbilla Surat Red Bulls.
Ben Condon, 20, was born in Roma and will be facing off against the Panthers in his debut match tonight.
“Benny’s a pretty cruisy character, and at this stage you wouldn’t know he was making his first grade debut,” Cowboys coach Josh Hannay told the Townsville Bulletin.
Jagat Pal came to Australia with an entrepreneurial spirit, having run a number of businesses in the southwest, and now he’s been recognised as one of the country’s newest citizens.
The 38-year-old Liberty service station operator received his citizenship certificate along with three other new Australians at a special ceremony held by Maranoa Regional Council on September 16.
Mr Pal said receiving his Australian Citizenship was a ‘proud moment’.
“It’s good to be more responsible towards everything part of community, part of country,” he said.
Five years ago, Harry Gane told The Western Star “one day we will make it to state championships”, and now, that ambition is dangling right in front of them.
Harry’s dad, Mat Gane, president of Maranoa Basketball Association is beyond proud to give credit to two players – Runako House and Meekah Schuurman who were selected for the Darling Downs school-based competition.
“That’s our strike rate – to have two or three players each year from MBA to be selected,” the MBA president said.
“It’s a tremendous honour for them, but also recognition for us that our program is of a good standard and it’s enough to ensure kids are developing.
“I’ve made it!” Those were the first words to come to Dexter Kruger’s mind when he woke up this morning on his 110th birthday.
Australia’s oldest man and Roma resident, Mr Kruger was born in an era where horse and buggy was the main form of transport. Since 1910, he has lived through two world wars, released 12 books, and watched his family expand.
Mr Kruger celebrated the milestone, surrounded by friends, family and community members including Mayor Tyson Golder at a morning tea at Pinaroo.
He’s been described by many as one of the most “freakish” players to step onto a southwest football paddock, and now former Mitchell Magpie Michael ‘Purcy’ Purcell is on the cusp of wearing the jersey for one of Australia’s most successful rugby league teams, the Melbourne Storm.
Ipswich-born and Charleville-raised, the ‘Kangaroo Catcher’ pays homage to the black and white Maggies flock for giving him the opportunity to develop his skills and travel 1300km away from the nest and will never forget - “Once a Maggie, always a Maggie.”
Purcy, 27, now has the opportunity for preselection for the Storm.
His explosive speed on his 75kg and 180cm frame has given him a lightning edge over opponents and sets him apart from the pack with his 66 tries in the Intrust SuperCup competition so far.
If successful, the Charleville boy will play among the most successful players in the sport and join the ranks of professional league stars from the southwest including Artie Beetson, Darren Lockyer and Adrian Vowles.
Paul Masson knows what it’s like when the rain stops falling and the water tanks run completely dry.
He has seen the highs and lows of rural life on his property just off the Warrego Highway at Yuleba, which has been declared as drought-stricken since mid-2013.
But Mr Masson and his wife Beryl have been thrown a lifeline as dishwashing company Finish partnered up with Rural Aid to deliver much-needed water to their property.
The #finishwaterwaste initiative is hoping to deliver one million litres of water across 50 Australian farmers across the country.
Working with local water carting services, the water is sourced from the local community and transported to the farmers at not cost to them.
It’s been a tough journey for Bailey Hockey and her family after a shock diagnosis of cancer earlier this year.
The Bear and Luca Cafe and The Tasting Co have both been donating $1 from every coffee sold over the last two days to supporting Bailey’s family through this tough journey.
A donated Broncos jersey was raffled off by Bailey and her classmate Rhawry Mayes after raising around $300 from raffle tickets and was won by Graham Ward.
This money will help the 13-year-old girl through her epithelioid sarcoma battle.