COMMUNITY CHAMPION: Mike Stanley recognised at Mick's Retreat Sawtell. Daughters Kim Andrews, Robin Chaloner and Sue Rossiter with their mother and wife of Mick, Thelma Stanley.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION: Mike Stanley recognised at Mick's Retreat Sawtell. Daughters Kim Andrews, Robin Chaloner and Sue Rossiter with their mother and wife of Mick, Thelma Stanley. Trevor Veale

'An absolute community champion'

IT MAY have been a cold winter morning, but as family and friends gathered at Mick's Retreat to celebrate a local father, husband, tradesman and legend, the warmth was undeniable.

Keith Rhoades initiated the ceremony and summed up Mick Stanley succinctly: "You can't describe him in any other way than an absolute community champion.”

It's this sentiment which seems to ring true for anyone familiar with Mick, who passed away around 12 months ago.

On Monday morning, a monument was unveiled to commemorate Mick at a picnic area named after the hard-working Sawtell man.

Among a rather long list of accomplishments, one of his most notable was when he decided to take the initiative and build what is known as Hogbin Dr to

clear up dangerous bottlenecks on the Pacific Hwy - for no price.

"The story I like talking about is how him and Mr Tolhurst got together and embarrassed the council back in the early 70s... just to stir council of the day along they offered their machinery and their time to clear what we know as Hogbin Dr,” Cr Rhoades said.

From building the

local BMX track to hand-crafting the cross on Sawtell's Anglican Church, Mick's work can be found scattered throughout the town.

He also took on a number of voluntary positions at community organisations, such as being director and vice-president of Sawtell RSL to even being president of Banana Republic, a tourism promotion for Coffs Harbour which took place during the 80s and appeared on national television with the support of a number of celebrities.

He often did not receive credit for most of his work, but what is arguably most inspiring about Mick was his more-than-humble beginnings and his perseverance.

"He was a timber worker since he was 12, he grew up the hard way only to give back,” said his daughter Robin Chaloner.

"He came from nothing. When we were little we lived in converted cow bails in the bush and dad lived in a bark hut.

"I was thinking about today and trying to think about the all the things he was involved in, but he was just involved in everything. It didn't matter if somebody wanted a snake taken

out from their house, or a tree cut back, or somebody got bogged - they all rang dad.”

With all the fond memories shared during the morning, it was obvious Mick enjoyed to have a laugh, once pulling off a major prank which saw council erupt with panic.

"He was talking about how a piece of council land would make good real estate, so he got some tape and linked it off and put some For Sale signs up,” said his wife Thelma.

"It was hilarious, but council was furious. By the end of the day it was only a joke.”

It was a bittersweet day for Thelma who struggled to hold back tears when talking about Mick.

"If he was here he'd probably ask what all the fuss is about, he didn't like getting all the attention,” she said.

"But the monument is beautiful. It's absolutely wonderful.”



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