The Town of Port Hedland’s Deputy Mayor Renae Coles has lived off and on in the town for nearly 30 years.
“I grew up in Hedland,” Renae said. “I did most of my primary schooling at South Hedland Primary and came back to town with my husband in our early twenties.”
Renae, who had finished high school in Geraldton, met her husband Wayne while on holiday in the Great Southern soon after. Wayne completed his electrical apprenticeship in Albany, and the couple moved to Hedland for work.
“We did move away again at one point, but we missed the North too much and came back,” she said.
Renae and Wayne now have three children aged 24, 20 and 18, and run their own electrical, contracting, and plumbing business in town.
Renae is also the Operations Manager at South Hedland Kmart, through which she is able to contribute to the community through initiatives like the Christmas Cheer Program and the Wishing Tree Appeal, which collects presents for children in need; as well as NAIDOC Week events and the Hedland Toy Run.
“My early start to community engagement was due to one of my mentors, Kelly Howlett, who through Care for Hedland was running the Cash for Trash Programme. My middle daughter Jasmin was keen to be involved as she saw a lot to be made collecting bottles and cans from around the town centre while I was working at Dental Health Services.
"Kelly later on asked if I would come on board and I accepted the role as Deputy Chairperson for Care for Hedland,” Renae said.
“Engagements that followed included being involved as an ambassador to the many cruise ships that docked in Hedland, handing out water and directing people where to find things. Feedback from people on the cruises was constantly ‘we wish the enthusiasm from your community could be bottled up and sold to others’.”
Renae said Hedland had always been home to her, and she was forever grateful to her Pilbara family.
“Giving back to the community is really rewarding for me,” Renae said.
“I love seeing the enjoyment on people’s faces when they go to events we’ve put on and knowing I’ve been part of making that happen.”
This spirit of contribution has extended now to local government, with Renae agreeing to run in 2020 on the ticket of local businessman Peter Carter.
“It took a little while for him to convince me,” Renae said.
“I sought a lot of feedback, but in the end, I wanted to be able to give back to the community that had cared for me so much. There’s amazing spirit to the communities in the Pilbara. The way they look after one another is something I really love.”
Renae ran, was elected and describes herself as honoured to now be able to represent her community as Deputy Mayor.
“It’s surreal, being able to get out and work on engaging youth and changing perceptions” she said.
“For me it’s about showing that we’re one. We’re a community, let’s be a community.”
Thank you Renae, for your important contribution to the Hedland community over the many years you’ve called this town your home.