It’s been an amazing year on Willoughby Living with community spirit running high. As 2017 draws to a close we’ve rounded up the most popular, contentious, funny and heart-warming posts from the WL Facebook Group…
Most Popular ‘Human of Willoughby’
With the giving nature of the WL Group it came as no surprise that the most ‘liked’ Humans this year were locals Chris Vagg and his partner Olga, who founded Pass it on Clothing and Co. This charity takes clothing donations and ensures they reach the homeless. How can they assure this? Chris and Olga personally collect the clothes and drive to Martin Place each week to set up clothing racks. Olga, who is a professional stylist by trade, even assists people to pick out their outfits. When the post went up on WL it garnered more ‘likes’ than any other in just a few hours. It’s what happened afterwards though that is a true testament to the nature of our community. “Willoughby Living members were by far our biggest contributors of donations this year,” says Chris. “It was immense, and Pass it on Clothing and Co is on track to pass on our 10,000th piece of clothing early in 2018!”. If you’d like to contribute in future, there is currently a high need for quality men’s clothes. Please contact Chris: Pass it on Clothing and Co.
(Photo credit: The Sunday Telegraph)
Best Animal Rescue
Undoubtedly some of the greatest community efforts on WL – sometimes daily – are the reuniting of lost pets with their owners and finding stray animals new homes. But the animal post that united many in our community this year came from Gabrielle Rashleigh, who kindly let the Group know of an affectionate ginger cat that appeared to be lost at Naremburn shops. When it became clear the cat had been abandoned, Gabrielle, along with several other WL members, launched a rescue mission. While the frightened feline evaded capture, Pya Kgo, an animal lover who works at SayCheez Pizzeria in Naremburn, cared for ‘Lily’, as the cat had now been named. But there were fears that Lily had injuries herself, and one member had noticed the cat being harassed by local dogs. Mags Hamilton, a seasoned cat rescuer, was called in to attempt the cat’s capture and was successful. She also revealed Lily was actually a Leo! While the skittish fellow was placed in cat foster care, WL’s Emma Borley continued to post looking for a forever home. It was secured not long after with Diana Cross for whom it was love at first sight. Diana was happy to update us on Leo’s adoption: “Leo has well & truly settled into his new home and he is unquestionably the boss – not just of my townhouse but the whole block! He is a beautiful cat with a big and at times ‘challenging’ personality. As for adoption – I love cats (especially ginger boy cats) and had been thinking of getting one for a while. On my birthday I happened to be looking on Willoughby Living and I saw a photo of Leo – I decided I definitely had to meet him. He is now a real joy to me every day.”
Best Community Spirit Posts
WL was flooded with the most posts of gratitude to The Avenues in Willoughby this year – and for good reason. These amazing neighbours get together to put on both the biggest and best Halloween party and Christmas lights displays in the area. In October, around 3,000 visitors descend on the infamous block and residents have been known to spend more than $500 each on lollies and decorations. For the last five years The Avenues have not only come together to create a spooky community carnival, they have also added a charity element with visitors asked to make a gold coin or note donation. This year $3,628 was raised for St Judes in Tanzania, who aim to educate disadvantaged students. Said WL member and Third Avenue Social Co-ordinator Graham Porter: “I’d like to see more streets do this kind of stuff, it’s not hard, go talk to your neighbours, get their email addresses and start something”. It seems many in the area took up the advice – for whilst The Avenues put on an awe-inspiring Christmas lights display this year, there were many more homes in our local area making a huge effort to decorate and create community Christmas spirit.
Most Supported Cause
It’s been a momentous year for Australia with the Same Sex Marriage Survey taking place, and this was something that struck a huge chord with WL members. Greg Reading’s post urging the community to vote yes was one of the most liked posts ever with hundreds commenting and showing their support with ‘likes’ and ‘loves’. Greg shared with us: I am “a long-term Willoughby resident, and have been living happily with my (male) partner for the last 30 years. When you complete your “Australian Marriage Law Survey”, I hope you will join me in letting the Government know that you believe that Australians should all be treated equally under the law, and vote Yes! My thanks to the many straight friends who are supporting me in this cause.” When the results of the survey came in you could almost hear a collective cheer across the lower North Shore – and you could certainly see the response on WL. Ronky Whitmee shared the feelings of many by posting that “we are one of the most loving and equal communities in the country.” Says Greg of the result: “To me the support of the Australian people in the public vote was important. And it was important for its symbolic value, even more than so than in relation to the “marriage issue” itself. So, thank you again.” The North Sydney Ward, which our area falls into, voted 71.8% “yes” – one of the highest in the country.
Best ‘Restored our Faith’ Posts
You may not have noticed but we do get a few complaints and whinge posts every now and then on WL (mostly on really hot days!). It’s nice that the posts that get the greatest engagement though are the ones that show our fellow community members are largely a top bunch of people.
One such post came from Willoughby City Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney: “They say it takes a village… This morning I was walking Roxy the Wonder Dog. When I stopped at the traffic lights there were two children from Northbridge Public School. “Is it ok if we pat your dog?” We then had a lovely chat about cats vs dogs. Both good we decided. They were polite, respectful and engaging. I was even sent on my way with “Have a good day.” Willoughby Village, if these children are a guide you have a lot to be proud of.” We’re sure many hopeful Northbridge parents quizzed their children that evening on whether they’d chatted to a nice lady with a dog that morning!
A similar post in May of this year had everyone hitting ‘like’ and demonstrated again that the young people of our community are being taught great values. WL member Vince Mico gave a shout out to a young lady named Stephanie who left a note on the windscreen after accidentally damaging Vince’s daughter’s car. “Without hesitation Stephanie admitted fault and apologised profusely,” wrote Vince. “I would like to acknowledge your honesty and sincerity, thanks Stephanie you provide hope for all our younger generation. Your parents should be so proud!” Community members will be even more pleased to hear what happened next. “Stephanie actually worked in Willoughby and lives in the Hills Shire,” says Vince. “As it turned out I spoke to her parents and mentioned how honest Steph had been. I didn’t have the heart to go through her parents’ insurance company and repaired any damage ourselves.” Good karma all round!
There seems to be no shortage of people in the area who are willing to go above and beyond to help each other. Mary Anne Veliscek was extremely grateful to the person who helped push her broken down car through the Castlecrag intersection and even returned with a bottle of water for her while she waited for the NRMA. In February, WL member Annette Haverbecke expressed her gratitude in a post over her wallet being handed in at Chatswood Chase. It happened after she’d just endured an awful 24-hours in emergency with her young son. Peter Choo also lost his wallet at Chatswood Chase, and summed up his feelings of gratitude in WL’s most popular post ever: “I just want to express my greatest gratitude for finding my wallet, waiting around to find me and eventually making the effort to deliver it. You are both truly great Samaritans and I can’t thank you enough. This is proof in my eyes to know great people reside in Chatswood and I live in a fantastic community.” Peter then paid-it-forward with a donation of $200 to Mission Australia and he let us know recently that a friend of his eventually managed to track down and make contact with the good Samaritans, Yue and Kenny.
Most Important Community Issues
While the majority of posts on WL highlight how lucky we are to live in such a great area, there are still many local issues that lit up the forum with discussion and debate – and hopefully brought some resolution.
Many local residents were appalled by the amount of people rudely parking across their driveways and the lack of recourse. The issue was quickly taken up by the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations (FWPA), and President Steph Croft was happy to update the Group. ‘The Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations has taken this matter up on behalf of residents and drafted a solution focused issue paper and advocated to The Honourable Gladys Berejiklian and Willoughby Council. Hopefully we will get some good outcomes including the law changed for affected residents and businesses across the State!”
In the mean time the Snap Send Solve app was a popular (and legal) recommendation for dealing with the issue: http://www.snapsendsolve.com/
Hundreds of members were also horrified by the dangerous intersection at Edinburgh Road and Eastern Valley Way, and the community was left collectively shaking their heads as to why nothing was being done. Willoughby Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney took up the cause in 2016 and discussed the issue with Castlecrag residents and Premier Gladys Berejiklian. There has been no change to the intersection as yet – despite another incident in August. As Anthony Hung reported in WL: “Another traffic incident at the intersection of Edinburgh Road and Eastern Valley Way. A pedestrian who was crossing was hit by a car that was turning right from Castlecrag on Edinburgh Road this morning. Everyone involved is ok. But this would have been avoided if the traffic light changes proposed by residents were implemented. I guess we need a more serious accident or for someone to be killed before anything will be done.”
Schools also came up for debate time and time again: the two big issues being overcrowding and religious school funding. In June there were passionate people on both sides of the argument when WL member Kristy Komadina posted about the Australian Education Amendment Act, which will reduce funding for religious schools. If you’d like to see the outcome and an incredible example of respectful community debate this is our pick for the year (just type ‘Catholic’ into the search bar of the WL Facebook Group and Kristy’s original post will come up).
The Posts That Made Us
The community was still giggling a few months after Lachlan Thomas’s take on a local hot topic when there was speculation over the Queen’s big announcement in May. “I know what the news is,” Lachlan wrote, “the Queen is putting Buckingham Palace on the market to be able to afford to buy a 4 bedroom house in North Willoughby!” Lachlan’s post drew more than 400 reactions and many comments that the Queen might have to sell more than one palace to buy in Willoughby City!
Hannah Cole captured everyone’s attention with her image of a spectral cloud over Willoughby for Halloween. It had many hitting the ‘surprised’ button before people realised it was a popular internet hoax and had a good laugh.
Another hoax that had the community fooled and amused was when Annie Williams posted an image of what appeared to be a horned snake in the tree outside her window. A snake expert was called in and quickly confirmed the creature was made of rubber.
Strangest Local Mystery
This one is recent and still has us all puzzled. Just before Christmas Kobie Van Wessem had a very unpleasant surprise. “This morning I woke to my car (that had been parked on Willoughby Road) absolutely littered with smashed eggs, sausages, lobster tails. lettuce and beans…” It certainly wasn’t a laughing matter but the sheer absurdity of a criminal using lobster tails was a telltale sign we live in an affluent area. It seemed likely a one-off incident but Kobie informed us it’s not the first time it’s happened. “The first time was a complete burger! (2 buns, lettuce, 4 eggs – the works) and it also happened to my neighbour”. Then, just days later, Melissa Chen posted: “Some fools decided to throw some eggs, milk and food at my car last night while I was parked on Frenchs Rd. My friend told me that this happened in the area before? Nice Christmas present, maybe they were making a cake on my car?” WL members had some interesting suggestions behind who or what could be responsible including possums and even a disgruntled kitchen hand. Hopefully the mystery is solved for the sake of the poor car owners and before any more gourmet food items are wasted.
How the Community Made a Difference
It’s always heart-warming to see how quickly members of our community respond to requests for help – whether it’s a recommendation for a tradesperson, furniture and clothes for people in need, and donations of time and money for important causes. We were truly astonished though and thrilled to hear back on one such cause this year from Susie Ashton-Davies who posted in WL in May with a call-out for platelets for her niece. Susie tells us she had around 200 responses! Her update reads:
“Back in May I put out an urgent call for platelets to help save the life of my precious niece Ivy who had been diagnosed with Falconi’s Anemia, a very rare blood disease. Some of you conquered your fears of donating or donated for the first time, others donated because they had received life saving transfusions and saw an opportunity to give back. This was all so heartwarming to see that total strangers would come together to help a little girl they didn’t know. A 1000 thank yous to everyone who responded not only with blood donations but also helping to find friends and family who were the compatible O negative blood type. Ivy is now doing OK. She turned four last week and clocked up 200+ days since her bone marrow transplant. Thank you and once again WL showed its true colours as a compassionate and community minded place to help those around them.”
You can view Ivy’s story here: Ivy’s Story
On that note we’d also like to say thank you to all WL members for your contributions this year – every time you read a post, hit the ‘like’ button, comment or post yourself, you are helping to connect our wonderful community. May the sense of community continue and grow in 2018. Happy New Year!
(Main image photo credit: the very talented Paul Melham).