Humans of the Wheatbelt - Ray Adams

I live in the townsite of Northam. I came here in 1969 with Elders from Scarborough.

I did live in Kwolyin when I was a child, it was a tiny townsite back then. I went to school with the Davis family who are here in Northam as well. We used to walk to Kokerbin rock and spend the day playing around bare feet with a good eye on the ground looking for snakes.

I met my wife in Northam and had 4 children, I now have 9 grandchildren. They are brilliant and my life. The oldest one is 21 and the youngest one is going on 11 but her age is really 2. I have also have 2 adopted grandchildren who are with my daughter Bronwyn her cousins' children and she is their "mum". They are part of our family and they call us Nanna and Pop. They are beautiful kids. We are very lucky.

When I first come to Northam I got involved in the Northam APEX club. This got me into doing community service and helping the community and I think that was incredible. That was the start off point on getting into your head the value of serving the community. I then spent 16 years in Northam Scouts. I started when my kids were young with my eldest son. Back then girls had to be in girl guides. The fact that it is now mixed is just great. I made it to District Commissioner. We did lots of things such as camping and bush cooking. These things I still do today with the family. I really enjoy hiking and finding old bits and areas where there is history. The girls came in later when they did have Venturers and then they got into all the fun things of driving cars and mud tracks.

Scouts now has become very risk focused. You need to have all that because you've got have not only your children but other people's children. You get a real buzz out of teaching the kids skills. I have seen kids develop from not having much confidence to kids that do have and will give it a go. It takes them out of their normal school group into a wider group which they all share.

One of my most amazing moments was when some kids visited us from Chernobyl in Russian Ukraine after what happened to them. They got to do things they had never done back home. The excitement and look of their faces we saw was unforgettable.

I spent 12 years as Town of Northam councillor and a stint as Deputy Mayor of Northam. There was a Shire and a Town of Northam then but it's been amalgamated now. Would I go back? I am not sure if I would run again. I have been asked by many people over the years.

I have lots of ideas about furthering Northam. The new shopping center has been great for town. One thing that I can notice when you go down the street, now the main street is packed. Employment is the big thing and getting young people out to a job is a must. I worked on a project with an aboriginal team about getting the kids some hand's on experience instead of just school. It was a great success. I was a fulltime lecturer at TAFE for 15 years specializing in local government and security operations. Since 2002 a lot of my volunteering is removing reptiles and venomous and non-venomous snakes. They can be lovely pythons or dangerous snakes. I have taken them out of buildings and a lot from schools and businesses in town. I go and release them back where they should be, not where we are, snakes stop the mice from running us over, they prevent thousands and millions of mice from developing. In 2006 we did have a massive mice plaque that descended on the townsite.

I think when I first came to Northam there wasn't a Coles, even the old Coles store or even a Woolies. And a lot of people did do their shopping down in Perth on the weekends. That has all stopped, you can look at all the number plates of the cars in the shopping centers now, go and have a look, they are all the rural ones. They are coming here now because it is cost effective for the small travel big savings and lot more for you to go and see and buy in clothing and incredible medical center. We don't have just 2 doctors. We now have an array of doctors and specialists and that is the part that makes us.

I still go into community groups and schools and talk about how to keep safe around snakes and what to do if you had a snake here. The rewards of volunteering is knowing that you have helped the kids stay safe. I help out at the railway group every year I dress up in some very red clothing and do all the waving.

Best moment of my life so far would probably be time with family and grandchildren plus being able to provide a service to the community. I think we all need to have a look at something, like some skill that we have that will help our community and make us a part of that. I was awarded Citizen of the Year in 2000 - it was the Fred Killick award back then.

My parents lived into their 90' - very lucky. Myself and Steve Altham were the owners and starters up of the Avon Valley Advocate. I was in the Advocate for a long time. At the end of that we put it on the share market and another big group took it over. The worse moment of my life so far has been having my wife be quite ill. We have had a couple of scares and that has been quite frightening for me. Sometimes it brings anxiety when you start thinking about what happens if, and that sometimes upsets me. I got some help for this and a lady told me what I have got to do is tell your brain to turn it off and I do. You have to not focus on that, instead on the good things.

The best moment has been taking 3 months off work after many long working schedules and taking the family around Australia in 1990, home schooling on the way!

My advice would be to think" keep life as varied as possible". I have had a great many varied experiences in life. If you get off at the East Perth railway station you are putting your foot on my work. My brother and I we did the concrete. So I have gone from a concreter to with Elders managing all of their sales and things right the way through to a dealership sales manager in Northam with Withnell Motors and then I worked in local government.

I have no regrets in life I have managed to do all the things that were on my list, I make sure I get them all done. I think that's it if you set a goal, get to it.

Human - Ray Adams

Interviews - Anna Cornish

Photographer - Tobie Watson