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A year in review: June 2020


June was a tough month for many but, despite the pandemic, Newcastle Weekly was able to bring the news to the Hunter Region. 

Here are some our team’s favourites from June.

Spate of attacks on Hunter’s police

Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell.
Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell.

Northern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell said there was never an excuse for assaulting a police officer.  

His comment came after several attacks on police in the Port Stephens, Newcastle and Hunter districts in early June.

In Maitland, three officers were assaulted after stopping a vehicle due to dangerous driving, with one sustaining a fractured eye socket, while another officer was allegedly threatened with a knife in a high-profile incident at Hamilton South.

Read more about this story here

Snapper strikes in region’s iconic moments

When David Diehm braved a ferocious Newcastle storm to line up alongside fellow photographers on the Anzac Walk in November 2019, he never dreamt the image he’d capture on his Nikon would attract more than a million people’s attention.

The hobby snapper was too engrossed in mother nature’s beauty to consider its followers, or its dangers.

As lightning forked across the coastline, the shy chiropractor adjusted his lens and shutter speed, knowing he had limited time before the heavens opened.

“It was such a once in a lifetime shot,” he said.

Click to read more.

David Diehm
Newcastle hobby photographer David Diehm gained global attention for his shot of lightning over Bar Beach in November 2019. Photo: David Diehm Photography

Surviving and thriving: How Kane beat Leukemia twice

At the tender age of just nine-years-old, Kane Ransom was like any other boy his age.

He enjoyed playing handball with his friends and loved Star Wars. But there was one big difference. Kane beat cancer not once, but twice.

Nine-year-old Kane Ransom. Photo: Peter Stoop

When he was just three-years-old, Kane was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Kane’s mum Natalie pushed doctors to investigate when little Kane started complaining of sore legs, was lethargic and suffering from fevers.

She was told he had four weeks to live without treatment.

After two years of treatment, Kane was officially in remission. But 18 months to that day, in 2017, there was devastating news.

Read more here.

Nurses protest “outrageous” wage freeze

“It’s outrageous, to freeze our wages.”

That was the cry from protesting nurses and midwives at one of Newcastle’s main intersections in early June.

The chants were directed at the Gladys Berejiklian-led NSW government after it announced in May that it would freeze public sector wages for 2020.

Dodging the rain and cold temperatures, two dozen health care workers rallied on a Tuesday lunchtime at the Lookout Road intersection, gaining much-wanted attention from passing traffic.

Read more on this story here

Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes and his sleepy sidekick Clifford promote this year’s Beanies for Brain Cancer campaign. Photo: Peter Stoop

Warm gesture in tough times

From the fight of his life, Mark Hughes built a foundation dedicated to saving the lives of others.

Diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013, the former Newcastle Knight is at the forefront of scientific research into the disease thanks to fundraising through his charity, the Mark Hughes Foundation.

June marked seven years since the foundation started its annual Beanies for Brain Cancer initiative.

“We couldn’t plan or dream of the support that was to come.”

Read more about the Mark Hughes Foundation’s beanie appeal here.

Whale, it’s time to hit the highway again

Lisa Skelton was just four years old when she first became obsessed with whales.

The year was 1993 and parents Colin and Sue-Ellen had taken her to see a film about a street kid who befriends a killer whale, fighting for its release.

“It started with Free Willy,” Ms Skelton said.

What followed was almost three decades of finding ways to share a passion for the wild creatures with others.

Click for a whale of a read

Dungog’s push for trail of tourists

Hundreds of mountain bike riders descend on Dungog to leave a trail of dust around first-class tracks.

For the volunteer-based organisation MTB Dungog, this is no longer just a pipe dream.

The Dungog Common is 650 acres of communal recreational reserve on the western edge of the town in the Hunter Region.

It provides opportunities for horse riding, trail running, bushwalking, and a Landcare group.

Mountain bike riding, arguably its biggest attraction, boasts 22 kilometres of single track, a recently developed 1.2-kilometre flow track, and a purpose-built fun track.

Read more about Dungog’s tourism push

Kristina’s karate comeback after fight of her life

Cancer survivors often described finishing treatment as “like falling off a cliff”. 

However, Novocastrian Kristina Bircsak was on a mission to raise funds for a centre that could catch you as you fall.

In 2016, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer and, after the fight of her life, she rediscovered karate on the path to her emotional and physical recovery.

“I just sat there for days staring out the window, I felt like I couldn’t do anything [but] after a couple of days, I realised that I needed to do something, and I needed to get myself out of this depression.”

Read more about Kristina’s journey to the Black belt. 

Cancer survivor Kristina Bircsak with The Kaden Centre’s Managing Director, Suzanne Clark-Pitrolo. Photo: Peter Stoop

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