A skate honour, for Pete’s sake

A FORMER Western Advocate journalist has been honoured by the community where he grew up.

Peter Veness will forever be remembered in the small country town of Gilgandra as someone who made something of his life.

Sadly Peter died on January 15, 2012 as the result of a brain tumour, but his memory now lives on with the naming of the Peter Veness Skate Park on Saturday.

The concept was first mooted by Peter and a group of his friends while attending the local high school in the 1990s.

All those years ago plans were drawn up and meetings held, but the project stalled.

However, in 1998 a new group discovered the plans for the skate park and decided to progress the initiative.

Peter Veness and Todd Gregory visited each class at Gilgandra High School to gauge a commitment from the students to support their fund raising efforts and canvassed ideas to raise the funds.

Mayor of Gilgandra Doug Batten said Peter was the ringleader of the push for the skate park and, even though he wasn’t a skater, he did all this to give his friends a place where they could enjoy this activity.

“As a result, the initial skate park construction was completed in 2001 at a cost of about $30,000,” he said.

“For his efforts, Peter was named the Gilgandra Shire Young citizen in the 2002 Australia Day awards.

“The extension of the skate park to include a bowl was completed in January 2011,” Mayor Batten said.

“Council was approached a few months ago with the idea of naming our skate park in honour and remembrance of Peter.

“When council considered this request, the history of the project was researched and Peter was singled out for very good reason.

“In 1999 when Peter and his mates were working on this project, skate parks were not seen very favourably by many communities with the belief they would attract anti-social behaviour, so you can see the fight the boys had on their hands.

“But they took the bull by the horns and well, the rest in history.

“I must say that as mayor of Gilgandra, I am proud to know that a person of Peter’s calibre was substantially educated in this community and I would like to think this town helped shape the person that he became.

“He certainly had some outstanding achievements in his short life, including rising to the position of political reporter for Australian Associated Press based at Parliament House in Canberra.”

Peter’s wife Bec and family and friends joined with the Gilgandra community for Saturday’s ceremony. 

His father David Veness said it was a joyous day but at the same time a little bit emotional.

“We’ve got some of our family with us and today helps cement our relationship with the town we left 11 years ago,” he said.

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