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Mum's on board for tour of duty

Not all mums will be enjoying breakfast in bed with their kids on Mother’s Day on Sunday morning.

Naval Officer Lieutenant Natalie Boulton, of Hughes, will be a long way from home and her traditional Mother’s Day pancakes.

Lieutenant Natalie Boulton.
Lieutenant Natalie Boulton. 

The mother-of-two is the only doctor on HMAS Newcastle, which will be sailing to the Middle East Area of Operations.

Natalie is one of three mothers on board Newcastle but the only one that has young children. She will be missing her first ever Mother’s Day with Elise, 10, and Ryan, nine.

Daniel Sweetapple, of Higgins, currently working with the ABC in Washington DC, meets US President Barack Obama upon ...
Daniel Sweetapple, of Higgins, currently working with the ABC in Washington DC, meets US President Barack Obama upon receiving a White House award for his video photography and editing of the 2012 Foreign Correspondent episode of 'Meet the Frackers'. 

The long-time officer will be away from home until October 21. The last time she went away on a deployment was before she had children.

“We’ve known for a long time that I have to go and do this so I’ve been preparing myself for quite a while,” she said.

“You go up and down. When you’re sitting around having a quiet moment it’s a little bit more difficult.”

The family has had some experience of being separated. Last year, Natalie’s husband Richard, also an officer in the Navy, was deployed to the Middle East.

The elusive Mr Gold Lego figure, one of which was found at Tuggeranong this week.
The elusive Mr Gold Lego figure, one of which was found at Tuggeranong this week. 

At least with modern communications, she can keep in touch daily with emails and occasional phone calls home.

“Being able to talk to my children, lets them know that even though we are thousands of miles apart, I am only a phone call away. I love the emails they send me of their lives and accounts of what happened during their day at school,” she said.

Sir Richard Branson with Canberra businessman Mick Spencer in Queensland this week.
Sir Richard Branson with Canberra businessman Mick Spencer in Queensland this week. 

Natalie has served in the Royal Australian Navy for 21 years, enjoying the privilege of travel and a job that is anything but routine.

“Also the camaraderie. It’s a different life at sea – you either love it or hate it,” she said.

With two ship’s medics, she provides medical care for the 230 crew on board Newcastle. And anything can come up, from infections to injuries.

“You know, we had an amputated finger the other day,” she said.

Both her children attend Garran Primary School which helped to organise a collection of children’s clothes which she will deliver to a local medical clinic for a needy children in a port in Africa. She will also be taking medical supplies.

“The school sent a note home with all the kids one afternoon and the next day I had three carloads of kids’ clothes waiting for me,” she said.

“It’ll be great to give something back.”

After the deployment, Natalie will return to Canberra to join her family and continue her civilian and military career as a general practitioner.

Up close with the President

Canberra cameraman Daniel Sweetapple, now working with the ABC in Washington DC, recently had an up close and personal moment with United States president Barack Obama just outside the fabled Oval Office.

The world’s most powerful man was congratulating Sweetapple on winning an award for his video photography and editing of an episode last year on Foreign Correspondent called 'Meet the Frackers', about natural gas extraction.

Sweetapple, a former Ginninderra High School and Hawker College student, won the documentary section for video photography in the White House News Photographer’s Association’s Eyes of History 2013 awards.

His proud parents John and Carol still live in Higgins.

One lucky lad strikes Mr Gold

It was a Lego enthusiast’s lucky day in Canberra this week.

The 15-year-old boy uncovered one of the elusive and highly sought-after Mr Gold Lego mini-figurines at Kmart at the Tuggeranong Hyperdome.

Now for those not up with all the goings-on in Lego land, the toymaker has released just 5000 of the individually-numbered gold-coloured Mr Gold figurines worldwide. They are secreted away in the Leo Collectable MiniFigures Series 10 packets (just so you know).

To date, 199 Mr Golds have been found worldwide, from Italy to the United States. Just eight have been found in Australia – including the one in Canberra.

The Hyperdome’s marketing manager Joel Smith helpfully told us that the chances of finding the rare mini-figurine are one in 1.2 million.

Lego site Brick Extra reports that some of the Mr Golds are being traded on selling sites and reaching prices up to $1200.

Branson does the business for Mick

Canberra business young gun Mick Spencer sat alongside entrepreneur extraordinaire Sir Richard Branson at a special event this week for the The University of Queensland's Business School. The 22-year-old is founder of Canberra outfit OnTheGo, which sells custom-branded sports gear to businesses and teams around Australia.

“I started my business in my parents' shed three years ago with $150 in my back pocket,” Spencer told UQ News.

“Since then it has grown by 300 per cent and we have just secured a significant number of national clients.”

Spencer was chosen to sit on a panel for the event through a competition on LinkedIn.

“I always knew I'd meet Sir Richard Branson, it's been a long-standing gut feeling but I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be on stage with him in front of 1500 people at a professional event answering questions about the future of business,” he told UQ News.

Little hero Ashley loses battle

Desperately sad news on Friday morning with the death of four-year-old girl Ashley Witherden who succumbed to cancer in the early hours.

Family friend Rick Dykstra announced on her website that the brave little girl, from the Canberra area, had “joined the angels” after a brave battle with a cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma which had grown in her sinuses.

She passed away at the Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick, her parents Peter and Jenny by her side.

“Ashley was a little girl and was not big enough to win the battles that no child should have to fight. But fight she did, to the best of her ability and with all the help that her family could possibly provide,” he wrote.

Ashley’s story had touched the hearts of many in the community, including 104.7’s breakfast team Scotty and Nige (aka Scotty Masters and Nigel Johnson) who had helped the fundraising effort and then had to announce the emotional news of her passing to their listeners on Friday morning.

“I’ve been doing radio for 22 years and it’s toughest gig I’ve ever done,” Masters said.

Many fundraising activities had been organised for this weekend and the coming weeks. They will continue, with donations to be directed to the Cancer Support Group ACT Eden Monaro's Own to help other children in similar situations.

Officers from ACT Fire and Rescue will be cleaning car windows at the corner of Coulter Drive and Southern Cross Drive on Saturday from 8.30am.

Firies Chad Porter and Rohan Coleman said they were honoured to give their time in the name of Ashley.

“Little Ashley touched the hearts of many people and the Cancer Support Group continues to help other children so we were more than happy to help,” Chad said.

Run or walk for this classic

Then deputy prime minister Julia Gillard did it, so you can, too.

The now PM was captured at the 2009 Mother’s Day Classic in Canberra looking refreshingly natural amid a sea of pink-clothed participants.

The popular walk or run event is on again this Sunday.

More than 7100 people have registered for the event around Lake Burley Griffin, with fundraising for breast cancer research reaching more than $100,000 in the national capital alone.

It’s a lovely way to spent Mother’s Day and late entries are still possible on the day from 7.30am (although the advice is to start lining up from 7am).

The start line is on Rond Terrace, Commonwealth Park, and the course will follow the footpath along the scenic Lake Burley Griffin.

The 10km run starts at 8.30am and the 5km walk at 9.30am.

What's on

  • A free community music event will be held at the Kingston Foreshore on Saturday from 3pm to 6.30pm. Live jazz, classical, contemporary and world music, together with great food and drink, all set in the picturesque Norgrove Park, put by the Land Development Agency. The park is on on the corner of Dawes Street and Printers Way.
  • The Tuggeranong Homestead Markets are on Sunday from 9am to 2pm off Johnson Drive, Calwell.