Meet Lucy.. Our new editor/publisher/designer

I thought a great introduction for Lucy, our brand spanking new editor/publisher/designer, would be to post her editors letter from her first edition (spring)! Lucy bought the magazine from the previous owners in July this year and so far it has been a whirlwind of highs working together to produce a magazine that we are super proud of. 

Headshots-045 copy.jpg

Disclaimer: This will be the longest editor’s letter you have ever read; I promise it will be the only one of this length. Just a quick introduction then a wrap up of the best edition yet.

I love to write. Or more pointedly, I love to write about topics that I am passionate about and I am fervent about this magazine. That said, you would think that my first editor’s letter would be easy. It’s not. I have been chewing over these words for the best part of two months wondering exactly how to introduce myself. So readers, stay with me as I try to articulate the journey that somehow ended with me at the helm.

Let’s try to make this bit quick. My background is media and communications/public relations and graphic design (what a mouthful). Business life started at local studio Cressaid Logic under the wing of Jossy Stoefles, two years later I was working part-time with Noelene Gration at Ascend PR while establishing my own studio, ROAR Strategy + Design. Six months later and I was officially my own boss (wistful sigh).

Through ROAR, Ballarat Lifestyle Magazine became a huge chunk of my workload with the design of the magazine and also the contract of sales co-ordinator. From here, as the months passed, I become increasingly invested in the publication. After two editions, we went through a major facelift which for me, was the turning point; I would never be able to give this magazine up. I was ardent, I was driven, I had goals and I was given the opportunity to make them happen.

So here we are. I am now running not only ROAR Strategy + Design, I am publishing a magazine and so far (fingers crossed) so good. I am honoured that I get to give something back to a place I love. There was a moment when my thoughts were consumed with moving somewhere warmer, closer to water, new, but during a brief six-month stint studying in Queensland I developed a new love and appreciation for the town. I mean come on, Ballarat offers world-class education at all levels, we are thriving with artistic and cultural wealth, you can find premium job prospects, affordable housing, an exciting world of food and entertainment, accessible community services, a great lifestyle and we are beautiful. Take a walk down Lydiard Street and look up at our picturesque historic buildings; they are breathtaking. But most of all, I love Ballarat for its opportunities. They are endless and I am excited to explore them with you!

So readers, I ask that you join me and the team as we work to create a community of like-minded, talented and inspiring people who, working together, can produce something truly outstanding season after season.

People to thank.

This is the easy part.

First and foremost, Joanna Stevens. Thank you for your belief in me, your guidance, the opportunity and for the trust you have shown in letting me take on your ‘baby’.

To Rachael Gleeson for fuelling my passion and sharing my vision.

To my family for their never-ending support, guidance and unconditional love.

To my amazing team for helping me pull this edition together.

To Ned, thank you. For your encouragement, your understanding, your belief and for your general awesomeness.

And lastly, to a man who was my friend and my mentor, Tony Kirby. You set me on this path, you showed me hard work and perseverance is all it takes to achieve. I know you would be beaming down at me for following in your footsteps. Just so you know, I read your editor’s letters before writing my own.

This edition:

Spring has to be my favourite time of year. We have all just survived another Ballarat winter, and soon we will have forgotten the early morning frosts, the side-ways rain and the energy bill that has kept us from freezing. To celebrate, we have filled every page with content that will regale, make you laugh, try new things, cry, discover, ponder, swoon, salivate and might even set you on the path of a life change.

This edition we take you into the life of Rohan Anderson, the man behind the hardback A Year of Practiculture. Prepare to be confronted, schooled and hopefully inspired. You will be gifted with delicious recipes from Rohan himself, Catfish head chef Damien Jones and BLM favourite Peter Ford. Writer Lisa Hayden will take you behind the scenes of Ballarat personality Roland Rocchiccioli and make you cry with the truly inspiring story of the Shorter brothers.

New on the block, wordsmith Andrew Brauman will take you on a journey through the craft beer movement in Ballarat accompanied by the striking photography from Scott at One Point.

You will meet and love the dazzling Ruby Pilven, local master ceramicist (try not to spend all your hard earned cash) through a witty write up by Eliesha Coxall and stunning pictures by superstar photographer Teagan Glenane.

Ballarat’s Best this edition features none other than local celebrity horse trainer Darren Weir. To keep the spring racing theme going make sure you check out our gorgeous fashion shoot compliments of Blanc Boutique, The Posy Co, our knockout models and the regal ‘Scotty’ the stallion shot by Jade at Mojo Professional Photography in the Buninyong hills.

So launch in readers! And remember we always love your feedback.

Happy reading xx


The Shorter Brothers

When loving completely, is all you can do...

Words by Lisa Hayden. Pictures by Jade Smithard. 


Social media allows us to access the stories of people near and far.

From Kim Kardashian's every move to oohing and ahhing over Prince George, our fascination with social media is growing.

Every now and then though, we read a story that gets under our skin; that causes us to stop and think before we scroll on - one that is more than pretty pictures and pouty smiles.

The story of the Shorter brothers did just that.

A picture on Facebook of a family with a mum, dad and four gorgeous children drew me in; kids with cheeky smiles playing in that free and easy way that young children have, parents looking on lovingly. These kids were cute and I wanted to read more.

In this case the picture didn’t tell a thousand words. In this case the words were bigger than the pictures and the words made me want to cry.

Four children in one family; three of whom have a terminal illness.

Belinda and Leigh Shorter have three scrumptious tousle-headed boys and one sweet little girl. Max is six, William is four and Hudson two; baby sister Sofia is not yet one having been born in 2015.

On December 23, 2013, Max and Will were diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a neuromuscular disease that will progressively destroy their muscle tissue, leaving the boys unable to walk, talk, or breathe on their own. In a cruel addendum to an already terrible situation, little Hudson was diagnosed with the same disease in April this year.

We have seen much in the media lately of neuromuscular diseases. The ALS ice challenge brought this insidious disease into the spotlight. More recently we have watched with awe as Neale Daniher went public with his own battle to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease. And now, our Facebook pages are showing photos of three beautiful little boys who are suffering from a disease that will ultimately claim their lives as their parents can do nothing but watch.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a genetic disorder meaning that it is passed from parents to children. The mother is the carrier of a disrupted gene on the X chromosome, which results in a lack of the protein dystrophin. Lacking this protein causes muscles to deteriorate and break down. Boys can inherit this faulty gene and girls become carriers. Boys born to mothers who are carriers have a 50:50 chance of inheriting the disease. Tragically, all three Shorter boys have been diagnosed. Sofia may carry the disease but will not experience the devastating symptoms like her brothers.

Looking at these little boys was difficult. 

They are typical little boys, curious, inquisitive, noisy and playful. They are handsome; blond hair, flashing eyes, bright smiles, cheeky personalities. The bond they share is warming. They play happily as I watch them run around their house. Every now and then they stop and gently kiss their baby sister Sofia, or sidle up to their mum for a hug. And as they did this, and as I watched them, all I could think was this lack of protein was going to devastate their little lives and reduce their potential. At some point soon, they won’t be able to run or play. Their speech will slur, their breathing will labour, instead of eating a crunchy apple or a slice of carrot, they will survive on softened foods they can swallow without choking. I had to concentrate hard on not crying. Belinda and Leigh will watch this happen to their boys. They will watch as those muscles start to shrink and their movements start to reduce. 

All three of their boys.I wonder how they will cope. When life delivers a shattering situation choice is taken away. 

Belinda and Leigh do not have the luxury of choosing their reactions to this manifest unfairness. They have four children who deserve the best of them and three children who will require more care than they would have ever imagined. 

As I looked at these parents and their beautiful children, the watching became less difficult. I was seeing love in action. 

I was seeing a dad who was playing with his little boys and being completely and totally in the moment. Giggles and laughs rang out as they played together. I was seeing a mother who had love oozing from every pore and who was allowing her boys to run and play and tumble and fall. I wanted to wrap those children in cotton wool and protect them from the vicious inevitability that was already imprinted on their genetic material. But their brave mother was allowing them to live normally and gleefully for as long as they could, and oh, what a gift she was giving them. 

I was completely humbled as I watched the Shorter brothers live the best lives they possibly could for as long as nature allows. Because this little family knows that life is precious and fragile and that the normal times will not last much longer. 

The life expectancy for people diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is 30. It is a terminal illness. No one has been cured of this disease. The facts are stark. But there are 37-year-old twins living with DMD who describe their quality of life as fantastic. 

It is a 'fantastic' placed fairly and squarely in the context of gratitude. 

These twins are grateful to be alive. They have family and friends and experiences that are meaningful and so far they have defied the statistical odds. But the context of this illness means that the quality of their life, while being fantastic in many ways, is stunningly difficult in practice. The twins are on ventilators and rely on wheelchairs to get around. This will happen to three little boys in one family as a mother, father and sister watch. 

As I watched, I also realized that I was seeing bravery in action. Belinda spoke simply. She said she doesn’t think too far ahead because to do so is just too painful. Leigh agreed, as he held his baby daughter and touched his wife gently. They have each day and they enjoy what each day brings. On the outside things are normal - little boys riding bikes, playing in a cubby house and jumping on a trampoline. But if you look more closely, you can see what their parents see - that they take a little longer to get up from the ground, that their legs are stiff when they run, that they find it hard to walk up hills. Belinda apologized for shedding tears and quickly replaced her sadness with a beautiful smile. A mother’s grief replaced by bravery. A father’s anxieties replaced by strength. 

The Shorter family is looking for quality because they know that quantity will not be theirs. Family and friends of Belinda and Leigh have decided to help them through the establishment of a fund aimed at raising money to give this family one wonderful, adventurous and memorable holiday to Disneyland. 

A holiday where little boys can be boys and do the things that most parents imagine their children will have a lifetime to enjoy. A holiday where three little boys and their baby sister and the parents who adore them can make memories that will have to last a lifetime, because time is just not on their side. 

Belinda and Leigh told me of the plans they have for their new home. Currently living with Belinda’s parents, they are building a home for their family. Their excitement was evident. But this too, is coloured by the needs of their boys; an alcove to park three wheelchairs, space for a hoist that will lift their boys into a bath, room for the van they will need to take their boys places - with space for those wheelchairs... all three of them - and widened doorways and ramps. 

Belinda and Leigh are uncomfortable about going public with their story, although Leigh acknowledges he feels less alone with others knowing what they are going through. They do not find it easy to accept gifts from strangers. They are private, independent, yet they know what their needs will be.

A stroller they use for Max when he is unable to walk long distances costs $6000. I think, but don’t say, how much this adds insult to genetic injury.

Leigh wants to make sure that I convey their thanks to the people of Ballarat for their generosity. Buninyong Football Club has had a fundraising day, St Francis Xavier School, where Max is in Prep, is selling shoe laces and wrist bands, Powercor, Leigh’s employer, is being very supportive. Their gratitude is deep and sincere. But their needs are just so much more. 

Tragedy has struck this family three times over. Their needs are magnified by an illness that marches relentlessly through their little boys. And those needs are multiplied by three. I think how hard it would be to do this with one child which makes it almost unbearable to think this little family will do it with three. 

We have reported in the past on how the Ballarat community has come together to support the likes of  Aron Siermans who lost his mother to a violent killer and the four little Edwards children who lost their Angie to cervical cancer. The people of Ballarat are wonderful at helping out and Ballarat Lifestyle would like to ask everyone to do this once more. 

Please help the Shorter family raise money to have a holiday that will last them a lifetime and then to donate money to research into neuromuscular diseases. Finding a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will let little boys grow into big boys. It's all any parent wants...