Coffs Coast Advocate

Coffs Harbour's Most Influential - Part 8


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 start of the list as nominated by our committee.


Julie Ferguson who runs REAP in Coffs Harbour, a regional food rescue branch of OzHarvest.

27 august 2014

Photo Gemima Harvey/ Coffs Coast Advocate
Julie Ferguson who runs REAP in Coffs Harbour, a regional food rescue branch of OzHarvest. Gemima Harvey/Coffs Coast Advoca

13. Julie Ferguson - Reap Food Rescue, Coffs Harbour's Orphans Christmas founder

Bringing heart and soul to the list is Julie Ferguson from Reap Food Rescue, Oz Harvest's regional food program.

Since 2014, Julie has been collecting food destined for the dumpster and redirecting it to those in need.

As the local Coordinator of Reap, Julie and her team of volunteers have managed to rescue more than 50 tonnes of food from local cafes, restaurants and supermarkets.

The equivalent of 135,000 free meals have been distributed to local residents doing it tough.

The charities that benefit include school breakfast programs, homework clubs, migrant services and preschools where parents are struggling.

All of the food Reap rescues is sorted, weighed and then distributed to local charities and schools.

Reap has recently secured a lease to a new storage facility to boost operations (that saw operations move out of Julie's house where they had previously been located).

Julie was also the driving force behind the Coffs Coast Orphans Christmas in the Botanic Garden for many years.


Julie Ferguson who runs a regional food rescue branch of Oz Harves with refugee health nurse Michele Greenwood and students from the Adult Migrant English Program.

27 august 2014

Photo Gemima Harvey/ Coffs Coast Advocate
Julie Ferguson Gemima Harvey/Coffs Coast Advoca

"I was one of those children that was always hungry," Julie Ferguson said.

"I remember it so well, going to school every day with no food.

"All my life I have wanted to help others in the same situation, and now is the time for me to do it."

As the local coordinator Julie volunteers 40 to 60 hours each week to the program.

Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson

12. Alan Johnson, President of the Coffs Harbour Racing Club, and Tanya Johnson, Chair and Co-founder of the Pinks Silks Ladies Trust

Husband and wife Alan and Tanya Johnson's impact on the Coffs community cannot be overstated.

Alan Johnson, President of the Coffs Harbour Racing Club and a driving force behind the Coffs Harbour Golf Course has been instrumental in elevating the profile and standing of both organisations, and a motivating force in numerous community efforts.

Alan is also the owner of engineering constructions company AJ Pipelines & Constructions, responsible for many of the major works in the region.

His wife Tanya is truly a force to be reckoned with.

The chair and co-founder of the Pinks Silks Ladies Trust, a registered charity with a focus on assisting local women's health organisations with much needed equipment and services, as well as contributing to national research foundations.

Pink Silks and Pink Ladies, Coffs Harbour Health Campus: Tanya Johnson, Cair of Commitee for Pilk Silks CHHC recieves the funding from Simon Chladil, Events Manager, Coffs Harbour Racing Club.
Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate
Pink Silks and Pink Ladies, Coffs Harbour Health Campus: Pinks Silks chair Tanya Johnson with the committee. Rob Wright

Tanya is quick to point out that The Pink Silks Trust committee consists of seven hard-working and very passionate women, who give their time selflessly for the cause.

Together, they are behind a variety of fundraising activities, the main one being the annual Pink Silks Ladies Race Day at Coffs Harbour Racing Club.

Over the past 10 years The Pinks Silks Ladies Trust have raised over $620,000.

The money the group has raised has funded, among other things, the donation of Pinky, the all-terrain rescue vehicle given to the SES earlier this year.

Cr Keith Rhoades
Cr Keith Rhoades Trevor Veale

11. Keith Rhoades, Coffs Harbour City Councillor, former mayor, former NSW Local Government Association president

Coffs Harbour Councillor Keith Rhoades AFSM is not afraid to ruffle a few feathers in order to secure the best outcomes for those he represents.

Cr Rhoades has been a leading figure in local government for many years.

The former mayor and former president of the highly-influential Local Government Association President, Cr Rhoades was first elected to council in Coffs Harbour in 1991.

He went on to become Deputy Mayor in 1999 and served as Mayor from 2004 to 2012.

He was also Chairman of the Country Mayors Association from 2007 to 2010.

Local government conference at CEX coffs association president Cr Keith Rhoades.
20 OCTOBER 2014.

Photo Trevor Veale / Coffs Coast Advocate
Cr Keith Rhoades at the NSW Local Government Association conference. Trevor Veale

Cr Rhoades has served on a host of committees shaping the region, including the Airport Focus Committee and Coffs Harbour International Sports Stadium Inc.

As well as his extraordinary service through local Government, Cr Rhoads was a member of the NSW Fire Brigade for 39 years.

He held the position of Station Commander at Sawtell for 17 years and was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2005 for services to the NSW Fire Brigade.

He has been a resident of the Coffs Harbour area for the past 43 years.

See the next three personalities on our list on Monday night.