Coffs Coast Advocate

Coffs Harbour's Most Influential - Part 2


Many desire it, only a select few command it and measuring it is a precarious task.

The Coffs Coast Advocate is doing exactly that, naming the men and women who in 2018 are influencing the future of Coffs Harbour.

It is, of course, highly subjective and will be debated in households from Bonville to Sawtell, Park Beach to West Coffs and right through to Woolgoolga.

Chins will wag, glass jaws will shatter and the only certainty is that no one will agree.

This online series will provide a unique snapshot of the way power is wielded in our great area.

And it comes in all sectors, business, politics, the arts, sport and health.

The one thing everyone on the list invariably share is a passion for our city and a drive to effect change in Coffs Harbour.

Indeed many are on the list on the strength of the work they have done to better the community and the wider Coffs Coast.

Much of this work is done without expectation of kudos or a "return on investment".

It's about civic pride and the desire to give back.

Here's the next instalment of our list as nominated by our committee.


Coffs Harbour mayor, Denise Knight shares a laugh with director Pat Slattery and secretary of ACCTS, Maureen Burgess.
Director Pat Slattery (centre) pictured with Coffs Harbour mayor Denise Knight and secretary of ACCTS, Maureen Burgess. Claudia Jambor

31. Pat Slattery, Local Theatre, Arts and Culture

PAT has been called many things - a chanteuse, a comic, a director, a mentor.

An energetic powerhouse with a laugh that ricochets around a room and a passion for the performing arts few can match.

Pat Slattery has been a champion of the local arts and culture scene and the creative force behind many local stage shows; from improvisation dinner theatre to fully staged productions, dramas, comedies, and musicals.


Getting dressed is Kelly McLoughlin-Wilden as Mrs Griffin and Director Pat Slattery at the Jetty Memorial Theatre with show' My Husband's Wild Desires Almost Drove Me Mad
Director Pat Slattery helps actress Kelly McLoughlin-Wilden in wardrobe at the Jetty Memorial Theatre during the show' My Husband's Wild Desires Almost Drove Me Mad.' Photo: Leigh Jensen / Coffs Coas

A descendant from a First Fleet convict, Pat has studied nursing, is a mother-of-two, was an "air force wife" and while her husband was stationed in Malaysia she sang with a folk group in Penang.

Later in Port Moresby she sang in a band and acted in expatriate productions.

She has also lived in the Philippines, and in the US, just a stone's throw from Disneyland.

On her return to Coffs she joined Coffs Harbour Musical Comedy Company, which was at the time experiencing a shortage of directors.

Terrified, Pat decided to give it a go, starting with

The Pyjama Game. She has since directed over 20 musicals including Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cabaret, Shout, South Pacific and Dirty Dancing, and Grease.


Coffs Harbour SES Prepares for action: Bill Roffey, Unit Controller, Coffs Harbour City SES in the hot seat.
Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Coffs Harbour City State Emergency Service Unit Controller Bill Roffey is always on call in times of floods, storms and disaster. Rob Wright

30. Bill Roffey - SES Unit Controller

BILL Roffey has been a vital part of the Coffs community since 1999, and a member of the NSW SES since 2005. He was prompted to join the SES after he witnessed the tail end of a cyclone cause a lot of damage on the northern beaches of Coffs.

As the Unit Controller, Bill leads the dedicated, highly trained and professional group of volunteers who put themselves on call 24/7/365, for road crash, vertical, animal and flood rescues (just recently, the team rescued a bush walker with a fractured ankle).


Bill Roffey SES area unit commander. . 09 march 2017
Bill Roffey SES area unit commander. Trevor Veale

In addition, the SES provides support to NSW Police for searches (missing people or evidence searches) as well as such things as gaining access to premises for medical emergencies or people trapped in lifts.


Peter McPherson

General Manager - Berry Category, Costas

Photo Contributed
Peter McPherson International Blueberry Organisation President and Costa Group CEO Peter McPherson. Contributed

29. Peter McPherson, International Blueberry Association President and Costa Berries

HELPING shape the future of one of the region's largest industries, Peter McPherson has been General Manager at Costa Berries since 1986.

Mr McPherson has played a key role in the steady growth and success of Costa's berry operations.

He has been instrumental in the successful expansion of the local berry business internationally, including blueberry operations in Morocco, the establishment of China operations and the expansion of Costa's blueberry genetics licensing around the globe.


Costa Group General Manager Peter McPherson accepts the Business Excellence Award for Agriculture, Food & Beverage at the prestigious 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards. 
Costa Group General Manager Peter McPherson accepts the Business Excellence Award for Agriculture, Food & Beverage at the prestigious 25th Annual AustCham Westpac Australia-China Business Awards. Contributed

Mr McPherson has been an influential figure in the industry both nationally and internationally, serving as Treasurer for both the Australian Blueberry Growers Association (ABGA) and the International Blueberry Organization (IBO), and in September 2016, he was elected President of the IBO.See the next three personalities on our list tomorrow night.

See the next three personalities on our list tomorrow night.