Community figures reflect on proud history of the Blacktown Sun

Retired detective sergeant Gary Raymond, pictured in a Blacktown Sun article from 2007, has campaigned tirelessly to make "something good" come from the tragic murder of Anita Cobby.
Retired detective sergeant Gary Raymond, pictured in a Blacktown Sun article from 2007, has campaigned tirelessly to make "something good" come from the tragic murder of Anita Cobby.

Gary Raymond

As many know, I was a Detective Sergeant at Blacktown Local Area Command and helped our team to successfully investigate the abduction, torture, rape and murder of nurse Anita Cobby which occurred at Prospect on February 2, 1986. All five offenders were convicted and are in jail never to be released.

After the trial I was visiting Garry and Grace Lynch at their home in Blacktown for a cup of tea. Garry grasped my hands and said passionately, “Gary something good has to come out of something so bad”. I replied, “It will Garry”.

Out of that tragedy came the formation of the Homicide Victim’s Support Group, and our project: Grace’s Place. It will be a residential facility built in Doonside to accommodate children from around NSW and beyond left behind after a homicide.

I would like to sincerely thank the Blacktown Sun for their tremendous support over many years by publicising our events, fundraising opportunities and community information about the Grace’s Place project. The Sun did all this without charging fees. What a wonderful community based newspaper.

Regrettably, children will end up in Grace’s Place after a murder but thanks to the Sun for its media exposure which has helped establish this world first project.  You see, ‘something good has come out of something so bad’.

FAREWELL: Blacktown City Rotary Club secretary David Bamford said it would be "a sad day" when the final edition goes to print. Picture: Isabella Lettini

FAREWELL: Blacktown City Rotary Club secretary David Bamford said it would be "a sad day" when the final edition goes to print. Picture: Isabella Lettini

David Bamford

The board and members of the Rotary Club of Blacktown City take this opportunity to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to the Sun for its support of our club for many, many years.

The Sun has promoted, covered and brought to the local community many of our events and projects as our club serves the community, including:

  • Police Officer of the Year Award for officers serving at Blacktown as our media partner since 1999
  • Vocational and Scholarship Awards at the Blacktown and Nirimba Western Sydney Institutes of TAFE
  • Seniors Christmas parties where we bus 350 elderly residents from Blacktown nursing homes to council’s Bowman Hall for lunch and entertainment
  • Installation of 862 smoke alarms for elderly residents and five special alarms for hearing impaired residents with Blacktown Workers Club
  • Support of Eagles RAPS at Doonside in acknowledging the achievements of students

Your newspaper has informed the community and provided opportunities for service clubs like Rotary to highlight the services we provide.

Our sincere thank you to all the editors, reporters and sales staff who have supported our Rotary Club for many, many years in bringing our service work to the community.

Blacktown Police Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald, pictured with Constable Ashlee Smith after leading an initiative to help families experiencing domestic violence. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Blacktown Police Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald, pictured with Constable Ashlee Smith after leading an initiative to help families experiencing domestic violence. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Chief Inspector Bob Fitzgerald 

The Sun over the years has provided Blacktown Police a powerful conduit for us to get key messages to the local community. The Sun has been generous in their coverage to assist us to maximise assistance and information from the public to help solve crimes, warn people of dangers or threats, correct or clarify information, deter criminal activity by increasing the perception of detection, and create discussion in the community.

The positive coverage has increased police visibility, reassured the community and assisted us to reduce the fear of crime, provided transparency and maintained community faith in policing. The positive and proactive police news stories are a proven method to provide the community with the confidence to report crime.

I thank the Sun’s professionalism and courtesy displayed by the editorial staff, reporters and photographers and wish them the best of luck for the future.

SydWest Multicultural Services chief executive Elfa Moraitakis was the 2017 Blacktown City Woman of the Year. Picture: Isabella Lettini

SydWest Multicultural Services chief executive Elfa Moraitakis was the 2017 Blacktown City Woman of the Year. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Elfa Moraitakis

The Sun played a vital role in social cohesion by ensuring the stories of non-English refugees and migrants and their successes reached the broader community.

I am saddened by this decision as so many elderly with no computer skills will miss out on their local news and local business activities.

You have been a great supporter in breaking down barriers and stereotypes and always fought for social justice on a local level.

We thank you for all your support and the impact you had on the local community.

North West Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service coordinator Kerry Kent with Blacktown Women's and Girls' Health Centre chief executive Jhan Leach. Picture: Isabella Lettini

North West Sydney Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service coordinator Kerry Kent with Blacktown Women's and Girls' Health Centre chief executive Jhan Leach. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Jhan Leach

For the past four years, Blacktown Women’s and Girls Health Centre and the North Western Sydney Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service have welcomed the efforts of journalists working for the Blacktown Sun to raise awareness of the epidemic that is domestic violence in our suburbs.

This raising awareness has resulted in a strong campaign by the Sun to identify and report on the deaths of women and children killed by perpetrators of domestic violence and the horrible effects this has had in our communities.

They’ve championed our local White Ribbon ambassadors and campaigns to raise awareness, supported and assisted us in helping the most vulnerable in our communities: women, girls and children fleeing abuse.

Raising awareness through the media by dedicated journalists has been such a relief to us over these past years as we and our voices and those of our community were being seen and heard.

This is a sad time for us, the staff at the Sun and our community as there will not now be that quiet and determined commitment to raise awareness. As our journalist warriors move on we can’t thank them enough for their commitment to us and our community.

Moni Habib, Christine Smith, Karen Fernando and Shristi Prasad pack emergency backpacks at Blacktown Women's and Girls' Health Centre. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Moni Habib, Christine Smith, Karen Fernando and Shristi Prasad pack emergency backpacks at Blacktown Women's and Girls' Health Centre. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Christine Smith

When Blacktown Women’s and Girls’ Health Centre celebrated our 30th Anniversary – the Blacktown Sun was there!

When we received amazing support from local businesses and organisations such as Blacktown Council, Nestle Blacktown, Blacktown Workers Club, Lander Toyota, GPT Group and Blacktown RSL Club – the Sun reported on how donations would benefit our clients.

When domestic violence took the lives of local women, the Sun reported sorrowfully, respectfully and powerfully from vigils commemorating their deaths, and about the scourge of domestic violence in our community.

The loss of the respected, compassionate and articulate voice of the Sun will make it harder to reach individuals and businesses in our community, to inform, celebrate and share with them.

The Blacktown Sun will be greatly missed!

Elona Lang

I was truly saddened to read today of that this is the final edition of the Blacktown Sun.

My association with this paper goes back close on 33 years when I joined a non-government organisation called Tuesday Night Club. My first mention in your paper was when the Mayor at the time (Leo Kelly) presented the organisation with two canoes that had been donated by Blacktown Apex Club.

Over the years I was fortunate to have a great relationship with the Sun and your journalists. I would like to mention especially Matthew Lawrence and Nick Soon who supported the service and the users (people with disabilities).

When I received my Medal of the Order of Australia it was Nick Soon who called and interviewed me; he showed great respect on that day and I will always remember him for that. Matt too was part of our committee in the early days and joined us at the organisation’s 25th anniversary dinner.

I would like to wish you and all the staff the very best for your futures.

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