Former Gunnedah resident, Bernie Shakeshaft, has been selected to appear on the cover of this year’s new look Tamworth White Pages and Yellow Pages.
Bernie was chosen under the theme, “Inspiring Others to Achieve”, which recognises the unsung heroes who selflessly help others achieve goals and are an inspiration to their local community.
The former Gunnedah shire youth worker has helped guide hundreds of youth who have lost their way, to get back on track to a brighter future.
In 2005, Bernie returned to Armidale on a mission to offer young people having a tough time an opportunity to turn their lives around.
He established BackTrack, a program that combines youth support with working the land, helping at-risk youth in his home town learn vocational skills and engage with their local community.
BackTrack offers four main programs to get young people work-ready.
Students can gain qualifications in welding through the Iron Man Welder course, while the Paws Up program sees young people learn self-discipline through dog training.
Young people working on the land can get nationally recognised agricultural qualifications through AgLads and a classroom teaching literacy and numeracy.
Over the past five years, more than 300 youth people have completed the program, with 87 per cent achieving full-time employment or pursuing further education.
“It’s fantastic to see young people who once felt alone and isolated, turn their lives around to become valued members of the community. I’m really proud they have chosen a path to a better future,” Bernie said.
White Pages Product Manager, Sarah Simpson, said this year’s covers will celebrate humble community members who don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
“There are thousands of Australians going the extra mile to help other people succeed and never ask for thanks or recognition,” she said.
“We wanted to honour these local legends who sometimes hide in the shadows and elevate them to a place where everyone can celebrate them.
“This year we are thrilled to recognise Bernie’s efforts inspiring his community.”
This year’s Tamworth White Pages and Yellow Pages will be distributed in a new ‘ideal size’ and page layout and will take around six weeks to reach each household, beginning this week.