Tom Gillespie, The Western Star editor.
Tom Gillespie, The Western Star editor. Simon Boucher-Harris

OUR SAY: Thank-you for the memories, Maranoa

IF I HAD the chance to meet the man I was two and a half years ago when I drove into Roma, I doubt I would recognise him.

It's been a few weeks now since I found out about my new position at The Chronicle in Toowoomba, and I've had time ponder on my career as both a journalist and the editor of The Western Star since 2014.

It's hard to put into words how I feel knowing my time in the Maranoa is (for now) over, but I've certainly learned some hard lessons.

Lessons about leadership, integrity, hard work, love.

Most importantly, I've learnt the value of community, and what it means to all of us.

As a city boy, it's very hard to understand this concept unless you actually live and breathe it.

I took on this role and its community, with all its colourful characters and customs, knowing full well it was an important job.

But what I didn't know is how much my view of community would change after being exposed to true country.

Community is not just a special and unique element to country towns, it is vital to their very survival.

Without the dedication from everyone to protect and make better the region we live in, small towns like Roma would disintegrate.

I learnt this by volunteering with Apex or Meals on Wheels, going out constantly to stories in tiny parts of the Maranoa and taking photographs at the rugby league, to name just a few. And I have to say, I've loved every second of it.

Even during the stress of deadlines and entire days when no one will call you back, I feel every person I've spoken to has not only built me as a journalist, but also as a man.

There are far too many people to thank, but if you've ever worked with me, provided comments for a story, spoken to me about an issue or stood there awkwardly as I took a photo, you know who you are.

Which brings me back to my opening point - Roma, you took me in as a weird, shallow, obnoxious and overly-enthusiastic man-child.

I leave your embrace a little wiser, a lot smarter and more confident in who I am.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for rewarding my two years here with memories that will last a lifetime.

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