Reporter Meg Francis says goodbye to The Hills

TRIBUTE: Thank you to all the people who have embraced me during my time in The Hills. I hope I am remembered as the journalist who reported the most number of animal related stories. Picture: Geoff Jones
TRIBUTE: Thank you to all the people who have embraced me during my time in The Hills. I hope I am remembered as the journalist who reported the most number of animal related stories. Picture: Geoff Jones

About 18 months ago I swapped the long dirt roads of the country for the congested city motorways.

And boy, has it been a ride. 

The day I became the reporter for the News remains to be one of my proudest.

From countless developments rising from the horizon to the green paddocks populated by four-legged friends, it is a collision of vibrancy and community. 

It has challenged and rewarded me in so many ways. I have worked alongside politicians, musicians, students and teachers, and a whole cohort of others who left me in awe.  

It has been my privilege to document the highs and lows of this community, from your constant and unprecedented growth to harrowing crime stories that we wish were more uncommon. 

From standing up against developments to pushing for infrastructure, this once rural community has cemented itself as one of the most interesting and diverse communities in western Sydney.

Often when people ask about my role, I tell a story about an afternoon outside The Hills Council late last year.

There was smoke drifting through the air and a small crowd had gathered together to protest the controversial acknowledgment to country.  Darug elder Uncle Wes Marne turned to me as I lingered at the back and said: “Come sit down, daughter”. 

This has always stood out to me because it reflects the diversity of this area but also the commonalities that bond us, regardless of our background.

 This community is solving its problems from the inside out. Stepping up and tackling universal issues such as domestic violence with kindness and action. 

The iconic White Ribbon campaign by Hills Community Aid will long sit in the back of my mind as a strong reminder of the power of community.

It has been an honour to listen to the stories of advocates and survivors who are working with quiet determination to give a voice to the silent victims. 

With a rich history of 60 years, the News has seen incredible change and handled it with grace. This is a community that respects its past, present and future. 

I would like to thank you for your patience as I have navigated the landscape of my own personal and professional growth. 

The Hills has left a mark on me and it has been my privilege to serve this community.

You have shared your battles, heartaches and celebrations with me and for that, this area will always hold a piece of my heart.

For me, a community paper is the summation of its readers - I am only good as the people I serve. 

You opened your hearts and homes, and together we made a publication to be proud of.

This story I found a place in The Hills first appeared on Hills News.