WHEN it comes to getting involved in the Tenterfield community, few have a busier schedule than local girl Rebecca Carpenter.
Whether it is waking up before sunrise to present the “Brekky with Bec” breakfast show on community radio station Ten FM, or working late into the night at one of the town’s many community fundraisers, Rebecca works around the clock.
“People sometimes call me bossy,” she laughs.
“And while I don’t like to think I am, sometimes I think you’ve got to be a bit bossy if you want to get things done.”
Getting things done is a big motivator for Rebecca who as well as managing Ten FM, was also on the committee for the first Wintersong Carnival, was a founding member of the Tenterfield Rotaract Club and was one of the key organisers of Tenterfield’s Youth Week celebrations in 2011 and 2012.
Young people and helping to initiate and maintain different activities for them is a focus for the 31-year-old.
“I was a 13-year-old kid in this town, I know exactly what it is like,” she says.
“I got into radio and that gave me a bit of confidence but I’d like to think that I could offer that to other people.
“I think small towns struggle to offer a lot of those opportunities and not enough people stay around... I think it is really hard for teenagers to go off into new places and into the bigger cities when they haven’t had that confidence instilled in them.
“It is our job to provide some things to do and to give them that inspiration so that they can go off and achieve the things they want.”
Although born in Tenterfield, Rebecca says she spent much of her childhood travelling between Tenterfield and Queensland, living in Mackay and Bundaberg as her father changed jobs.
A middle child with two brothers, she describes herself as a tomboy who rode motorbikes and surfed a lot growing up in Mackay.
“We really did get the best of both worlds because we got to experience the coast and come back to the farm in Tenterfield. I am definitely not a big fan of the city.”
Despite her lack of affection for “the big smoke” Rebecca did move to Brisbane when she was 21 after finishing high school in Tenterfield and completing a traineeship with Roger Braham.
She swapped office work for management work in pubs and clubs, gaining practical experience and skills that have stayed with her.
“I started managing a bottle shop for my dad and I moved into managing the bottle shops for the Regatta hotels. Wine just became a big passion of mine,” she says.
“I’ve got the brain of a manager and the brain of someone who likes to see dollar signs, so I just started off with something small and it went from there.”
Rebecca says anonymity of city life was appealing as a young 20-something, but as she got older it became less attractive.
“People don’t tend to look up or smile at you in the city and country people are much more friendly.”
It was this love of the country friendliness as well as the desire to buy a house that bought Rebecca back to Tenterfield.
It did not take long she says for her to be “cornered” into volunteering at the radio station again, climbing the ladder from volunteer to station manager soon enough and bringing her expertise as a business woman to the organisation.
“We were in a lot of debt when I came back and we’ve worked really hard to bring it back to earth,” she says.
“We’re now at a point where we are able to put on a trainee, we are revamping a lot of our equipment, and we’ve a real open door policy now which is great. The committee is very open-minded and really passionate about what we have.”
As the name would suggest, Ten FM is heavily involved in the Tenterfield community and getting out and about in the town and engaging with local businesses is a daily routine for Rebecca.
As well as her community work, Rebecca does not shy away from politics and is not afraid to be a leader or speak her mind
These skills were put to the test last year when she ran for council in the May byelection.
Rebecca said she received a lot of “unexpected” support from community members who encouraged her to put her hat in the ring.
“It gave me a bit of confidence that ‘oh yeah, maybe I can do this’,” she says.
“It was really nice, in a way it felt like I was getting back to my roots and doing some of the things I hadn’t done since I moved back. It was nice to say, ‘yes I am a local and I am really proud of it’.”
As for the upcoming council elections in September, Rebecca isn’t saying much.
“I’m thinking about it,” she says.
In the meantime renovating her house and planning for the upcoming Ten FM markets in the park will keep her busy enough.