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Looking back on the year 2022

Mother and daughter team Kate and Sadhbh (pronounced Syve) Neill wish all their readers and valuable advertisers a wonderful festive season.

They are as extraordinary as the area they serve with The Belmont Chronicle. This is their 11th monthly edition, put together at their Rivervale home.

Kate (55) is the passionate driving force - despite a debilitating health condition - and daughter Sadhbh (30) is the full-time team-leading geologist, who in her spare time helps by distributing copies of the Chronicle and handling emails.

"Belmont has the highest proportion of people born overseas in the entire State," says Kate. "It's a beacon of multiculturalism and we need to celebrate it."

Council figures back her up. More than 40 percent of the 42,000 people living in the city were born overseas. They speak 63 languages and a third speak a language other than English at home. Belmont's population is expected to grow to 65,659 within 20 years and there are already roughly 56,000 job opportunities in the city.

Extraordinary Kate is a former paramedic, forced in 2015 to leave her role as officer in charge of a remote ambulance station in Nyngan, NSW, after contracting Bird Fancier's Lung (BFL) - probably during an emergency call. That ended a 20 year career with the NSW Ambulance Service, where she witnessed the best and worse of life. Her first seven years were based in the boisterous inner west suburbs of Sydney and the Central Coast.

"It was a fabulous career and I loved it to death. I was devastated to leave it in 2015. I try not to think about it."

Asked about her most traumatic experiences as a paramedic, Kate says "There's a difference between what you might think is devastating and what I would think. You would think of dead people and blood. For me, it was all about people. I did see a lot of blood, but sometimes just sitting and talking with someone whose parent has died made a bigger impression on me. You make a human connection; they are not just a body in front of you."

Kate says her paper is also about connecting people.

"It is about helping them find out about local issues, events and services. And about some of the extraordinary people who live nearby.

"I'm not religious and I'm not political. I'm interested in where we are going as a society.

"I started the Belmont Chronicle after I saw Belmont lawn bowlers in tears over a dispute about their club; and after experiencing difficulties in finding out about local issues and where things were, what was available to us here.

"The Chronicle aims purely to keep locals better informed and engaged. We want it to be like "meet the neighbours."

Sadhbh is in awe of her mother's commitment, resilience and integrity. "We're not stopping now," she says. "It was fantastic to recently win the home-based business award and to be recognised by professionals." - By John Arthur, Belmont resident and founder of the Perth Voice newspaper.

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