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Mudgee branch manager says home is where you find community

Three and a half years after opening our Mudgee branch, Sam Watson reflects on what he loves about his home town.

Wednesday, 20 September, 2017.

Sam Watson loves spring time in Mudgee. It means the Mudgee Wine and Food Festival is on, and the town comes to life after a cold and sleepy winter.

Sam is the Branch and Lending Manager at the Newcastle Permanent in Mudgee. He’s a relative ‘newbie’ to town but, he said, he had fallen in love with the region since moving there seven years ago.   

"My wife is from Mudgee and when we had a couple of kids in Sydney we decided we wanted to get out, so we packed up the family and moved to Mudgee," he said. "Happy wife, happy life.

"It was a bit challenging, initially. I grew up in Adelaide and then lived in Sydney for 9 or 10 years, so I was used to city life. So it was a big change moving to the country. But I love it now. There are no traffic lights in town."

Not only are there no traffic lights; Mudgee is home to fine wines and food produce, and natural beauty.

"The wine festival runs for a month (from the 9th September to 2nd October), and there are a lot of different events," he said. "Pretty much, each winery has its own food and wine events. But the big one is the Flavours of Mudgee. They close of the main street and wine and food producers all have stalls and the place has a real atmosphere. It’s a good event."

It’s the sense of community that Sam said he really loved about his adopted home town. It comes to life at showcase events like the Wine and Food Festival, but Sam said he had also come to feel the community spirit of Mudgee through the branch he’s managed in since it opened in April 2014. 

"It took a little while for people to become aware of us, I think, but we have lots of great members now. They really enjoy coming in to see us, and what we put back into the community." - Mudgee Branch Lending Manager Sam Watson

Newcastle Permanent branch manager Sam Watson and three female staff members
Our Mudgee branch team: Danielle Rayner, Carol Allport, Sam Watson and Ros Lee.

Sam said customers enjoyed having a chat when they came into the branch and the work Newcastle Permanent had done in the community seemed to resonate.

"It took a little while for people to become aware of us, I think, but we have lots of great members now," he said. "They really enjoy coming in to see us, and what we put back into the community. 

"We’ve put on Cinema Under the Stars for the past three years and that has been a great event. And our Charitable Foundation has provided grants to The PCYC to renovate the hydrotherapy pool and to the sensory garden at LifeSkills, as well. Then there’s the Running Festival, where we sponsored the 10 kilometre run. We held that in -5 degrees a couple of weeks ago.

"There’s also the Introducer Program. We’ve been able to give back some money to local schools through that, which is really great. 

"These things have all been well received and we get approached for sponsorships. I really like that. Coming up in October we have Pink Up Mudgee, where we’ll help paint the town pink and raise money for breast cancer research and treatment. We did that last year and we’ll be involved again next month."

If you don’t see him in the branch on Church Street, you might find Sam playing touch football for Baker Williams Distillery or basketball for Country Physio. He’s also the Mudgee Basketball treasurer, which you’d expect a branch manager could handle. Or he’ll be with his family, watching his kids play sport, or exploring the region’s beautiful national parks. 

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