The Yarrawonga Chronicle has been the newspaper voice for Yarrawonga/Mulwala and district and well beyond for the past 131 years.ROBERT MUIR June 11, 2014 4:00pm
And Noel Loughnan, despite having lost both his parents by the time he was 20, has been the driving force behind the Chronicle's outstanding success for 67 years.
So much so that the 83-year-old newspaper's Owner Managing Editor - before handing over the business to sons Aaron and Jared in 2011 - has been included in the 2014 Queen's Birthday awards for the Order of Australia Medal (OAM): "For service to the print media industry, and to the community of Yarrawonga.”
Adrian Noel Loughnan (Noel) continues to be active in the business, albeit at a less hectic pace. In addition to his remarkable newspaper career, Noel has simultaneously been involved with so many other organisations in the local community.
But first, a glimpse at his newspaper record for nearly seven decades:
* 1945, commenced with The Yarrawonga Chronicle at age 15 with an apprenticeship in composing and printing machining
* 1952, became one of three proprietors of the Chronicle
* 1960, advanced to Managing Editor
* 1974, became, with wife Pat, the sole owner
* 1980, the Loughnans purchased the Corowa Free Press and later that year, the masthead and files of the Rutherglen Sun. Noel was elected on to the Council of The Country Press Association of NSW, Australia’s oldest Newspaper Organisation 32 years ago, has served four terms as deputy and vice president and continues to serve on the council.
* 1992, Noel and Pat co-ordinated and hosted at Mulwala the first combined States and National Conference of the Country Press which was opened by the Governor-General of Australia.
* 1998, Bought a printery in the City of Wangaratta giving the company a presence in three towns and lifting the workforce to 35.
* 1998, Noel honoured by the Country Press Association of NSW; presented with the prestigious Tribute to Service Award in Sydney recognising 50 fruitful years in the newspaper industry and dedication to Community Service, receiving a standing ovation.
"This is a great honour and I feel very proud but very humble in receiving such a prestigious award," Noel said of his OAM Award.
"The whole thing has hit me like a bomb shell. About four weeks ago I was shocked when I received a letter advising that I was being considered for the award in the General Division within the Australian Honours System.
"Realising that I would be joining many other local awardees, an illustrious group, all with an incredible record of community service, this has just blown me away."
Noel lost his father in the year he began his apprenticeship. It was a remarkable and courageous move for Noel to become a co-proprietor of a newspaper at the age of 21, the year he completed his apprenticeship and two years after the death of his mother.
He was at the forefront of new technology, installing the first computers in Yarrawonga for typesetting, and shortly afterwards, converting his newspapers to offset printing.
Ever since, an ongoing replacement program has enabled the business to maintain the highest standards of production to compete keenly and to provide an efficient service to newspaper and commercial outlets.
The Yarrawonga Chronicle has a fine reputation for its quality design, editorial and advertising content
In 2007, The Yarrawonga Chronicle was named the Victorian Country Press Association (VCPA) Newspaper of the Year in its circulation category. It was highly commended, being runner-up for 2012 Newspaper of the Year and has received various VCPA awards over the last six consecutive years.
As a journalist for both the Yarrawonga Chronicle and Corowa Free Press, I must mention the significance of the content in both newspapers, in which Noel has been involved. For example, in 1990, Noel led and influenced a constant publicity plan against the State and Federal Governments to establish a Toxic Waste Incinerator at Corowa; the project was finally abandoned.
In 2000 and 2001, Noel led the newspaper way promoting the huge Save Yarrawonga/Mulwala march – 7,000 people - over the traffic bridge to protest against the Federal Government's proposal to import propellant and close the largely 1943-built factory of
The Chronicle Editor was again prominent defending Yarrawonga/Mulwala in 2002 and 2003. In constant hard hitting editorals Noel exposed the affect Goulburn Murray Water’s Lake Mulwala Management Plan would have on lake users, irrigators, the public and the local $150m tourist industry especially in relation to the proposal to lower the lake by up to a metre to provide air space. Opposition to the plan culminated in another huge march – 4,000 people – over the traffic bridge to a public meeting at Mulwala where river chiefs were given a clear message – don’t muck around with our lake levels.
Many significant publications have been written/edited by Noel, including the outstanding Centenary Feature 1883 to 1983 of the Yarrawonga Chronicle, “A Century in Yarrawonga/Mulwala,” a 72 page edition marking the turn of the century in 2001, and Yarrawonga’s first history book, “From Ballanda to 1968 The Story of Yarrawonga”.
Life time of writing, now....
"As a journalist I have spent a lifetime writing about people receiving such awards, I never imagined that one day I would receive such an honour," the modest Noel said.
"So many people have contributed to this award and I thank them all for their help and support. They include members of my family, associates and friends of the Country Press, the great work team in the newspapers I have been fortunate to have for more than half a century, my mates in Apex in which I was a member for 16 years and my fellow members of Rotary which has been a big part of my life for the last 40 years.
"Special thanks goes to my wife of 51 years, Patricia, and my four children Garry, Jodi, Aaron and Jared for their support and encouragement in my newspaper journey and community service.
"Patricia has been my rock, she took on numerous roles in the newspaper and steered many changes that embraced new technology including the introduction of the first computers into Yarrawonga that had very little software but heaps of intricate hardware, a far cry from today’s state-of-the-art computers."
Outside of the newspaper industry, Noel's value and leadership have been demonstrated since he was a boy cub in the scout movement, in which he later took on the role of Scout Master when quite young when the troop suddenly lost it’s leader, at Mulwala Central School, in establishing a dance band when aged in his 20s, and holding committee positions with Yarrawonga/Mulwala organisations and sporting clubs.
Noel was a foundation member of Yarrawonga Apex 58 years ago, past president and life member and is currently active in community service as a member of the Rotary Club of Yarrawonga/Mulwala, past president and a Paul Harris Fellow
He represented Victoria in several Australian Championships in his favourite sport of water skiing and was in a local team who put on a ski show at one of the early Moomba Festivals on the Yarra in Melbourne. This exhibition paved the way for the introduction of competition water skiing at Moomba which became the premier ski tournament in Australia. Noel has occupied senior positions in sporting clubs including foundation president of Yarrawonga Judo Club in 1960 and president of Yarrawonga Footballers Cricket Club.
Music and dance are special to Noel. His mainly four-piece-band called 'Murray Swingsters' played a significant role in the local and district dance and entertainment scene for 15 years through the late 1950s, 60s and early 70s during which he assisted many charitable causes.
"I learnt music at school, in the Yarrawonga Brass Band and from my mother who had her own dance band that dominated the local district dance scene for almost 30 years through 20s, 30s, and 40s," Noel said.
"I learnt to play the cornet in the Yarrawonga District Citizens Band and we assisted many charitable causes over many years."
Noel said that like all businesses there have been ups and downs but overall the business has been very successful.
"My journey in newspapers and printing has spanned some 67 years, all of which I have spent at the Yarrawonga Chronicle becoming the Chronicle’s longest serving member and Managing Editor of the Chronicle for a record 53 years," he said.
"It has been an interesting journey with many challenges along the way but I have enjoyed every minute of it. From an early age I have endeavoured to follow the example set by my parents Joseph and Lena Loughnan who were outstanding community citizens.
"As the youngest of nine siblings, I grew up in an atmosphere where community service was paramount, something you just did, wanted to do."
Noel's wife Patricia commented: "As a family we are very proud of our husband and father and feel that he is very deserving of this award, after a lifetime of devoted service to newspapers and the community.
"Throughout his life Noel has always been a quiet achiever preferring to fade into the background rather than be in the spotlight. He has never looked for or expected recognition for his work for the community and the print media industry.
"At 83 he can’t resist going to his office at the Chronicle most days and he is still an active Rotarian. We are very proud of him."
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Saturday, August 22 saw the Harston Memorial Hall packed to capacity for the annual Reg Poole Concert.
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Cobram Barooga leaders and tourism operators have welcomed the launch of a new tourism strategy focusing on events, which aims to attract more people to the Murray River.
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