Graham Hanley.
Graham Hanley.

Family man always willing to help

GRAHAM Hanley became well known on the Coffs Coast for his commitment to community affairs but remained first and foremost a family man.

The inaugural President of the Northern Beaches Residents Association, former NSW senior member of the St Vincent de Paul Society and former national account operations manager for Australia Post died suddenly on December 30 after suffering a massive stroke.

Graham was born on August 14, 1936 and grew up on the sheep station, Nonning, in Port Augusta, South Australia, with his three brothers.

He married Elsa Drummond on February 18, 1956 and they raised six children – Denise, Donna and Suzanne who all live locally and Maria (Kalgoorlie), Graham (Geelong) and Shane (Bowen).

The family lived in Adelaide, then transferred to Melbourne where Graham rose to become a national manager with Australia Post.

Ill health forced him to retire at 42 and leave Melbourne where he had developed asthma and the family travelled around Australia for two years. Eventually they settled in Woolgoolga in 1979 where Graham’s asthma cleared up and he remained in good health until the last six months.

Not long after arriving, Catholic priest Fr Casey approached the devout family and asked Graham to become involved in the St Vincent de Paul Society.

For almost 20 years Graham made great changes in the society. Firstly as the Lismore Diocesan President then as a NSW Training Committee member.

He maintained that poor people had a right to have a good shopping experience and brought the Society out of old homes and halls and into shopfronts with a pleasing layout.

He also planned and established the three stores in Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Toormina.

When Elsa was diagnosed and survived breast cancer in 1997, Graham finished his work with the society and scaled back to keep his St Francis Xavier parish commitments It was about that time that Graham began to push for a supermarket near the highway.

His belief and desire stemmed from the fact that he watched many women walking with large loads and pushing prams from West Woolgoolga into town.

It was also part of the reason he established the Northern Beaches Residents’ Association with several other locals two years ago.

He believed the town needed a major supermarket on the highway to better service the whole area and continued to lobby for that, particularly when Coffs Harbour City Council put out its Employment Land Strategy which considered zoning on the Raj Mahal site last year.

He also believed the Northern Beaches should have a more equitable slice of development funds and should offer greater services to the residents, particularly youth.

His last public meeting was at the first community consultation meeting about the proposed Woolgoolga Multi Purpose Facility.

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