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What Makes it Local?

This month, intouch Magazine asked Claudia Tolhurst to share her thoughts on what it means to be local. Claudia is the Executive Officer at the Hunter Melanoma Foundation (HMF). The Foundation is a community-oriented, not-for-profit organisation committed to defeating melanoma in the Hunter region through education and awareness about sun prevention and early detection.


Above: Claudia with her extended family on the steps of Town Hall on Anzac Day

It is the people that I love the most about this place we call home. There is a sense of community that inspires you to want to help your neighbour.

Born at the Mater Hospital, and raised in Cardiff South, I have never considered living anywhere else. Well, I did consider applying to attend NIDA when I finished the HSC, but my sense of family and home was far greater than my passion for musical theatre.

My family was big on volunteering, and my parents were involved with many local sporting and community groups. It was their influence and community-minded spirit that gave me my passion for giving back and making a difference. It was not until I was older, and some of my childhood friends told me their stories and memories that I truly appreciated the impact my parents had on their lives.

I have volunteered in many roles with community groups over the years. Some of those roles were born out of passion, and some were just because someone had to do it.

One of those passionate role’s is my love of coaching netball teams, and it is not just about the netball. To me, it’s more about being a good role model; forging connections and trying to be a positive influence on my peers and emerging generations.

For most of my career, I had the opportunity to work in the banking sector. It was a role that gave me another perspective of what our version of local meant. While I was working with many home-grown businesses and not for profit organisations, it became obvious to me that local was about being part of a community and instilling a sense of belonging.

It was through this idea that led me to volunteering my time to the Hunter Melanoma Foundation. The organisation, like so many other fabulous local charities, came from a need within our local community – to help those who were living with the devastating effects of melanoma.

Today that mission has expanded into education and community engagement programs to help our local community eradicate melanoma. And now, as the charity’s only employee, I am very privileged to work with a volunteer board who believe that having a local charity that works towards defeating one of Australia’s biggest killers, is vital for our local community.

It is well known that we have some of the most beautiful beaches and vineyards here in Newcastle and the Hunter, but for me, we have so much more.

Our wealth and beauty lie in our community spirit.

The work I do, the connections my family has and the people I am fortunate to call friends and colleagues consistently show me that we are a town that pulls together and supports one another when it is needed most. That’s never been more relevant than it is today as we all manage our way through COVID-19.

I’m surrounded and supported by local people and local businesses who are skilled and capable and happy to offer their time or services as needed - not because they have to, but because they want to and they know it’s the right thing to do.

Why would you live anywhere else?


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR We welcome letters to the editor – if you have a community minded opinion and would like to share, please email

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