He describes himself as a ‘B Grade’ local, but Orange resident Paul Cox is anything but.
The former Rotarian and current Chairman of community organisation Roundabout Central West is fiercely proud of his hometown and has devoted much of his time to community service, including Graffiti Removal Day (GRD).
“To be an A Grade local you have to have been born here,” Mr Cox laughed. “I moved here in 1979 you see.”
For the past three years Mr Cox as participated in Graffiti Removal Day, not just as a volunteer but in the role of Local Area Coordinator. This year will be no exception.
“Graffiti is ugly and a blight on the environment and look of the city,” he said.
“Anything we can do to clean up the city and make it look better is going to be worthwhile. It might just be in a small way, but we can attack areas with graffiti and make them look better.”
While GRD groups in Orange usually include 10 to 12 members, the volunteers are heavily invested in well-being of their hometown.
According to Mr Cox, in addition to members of Roundabout Central West many of the volunteers are young PCYC members and families.
“Last year we had a family with Mum and Dad and the kids,” he said. “And that was just terrific.”
“Although graffiti is not prolific in Orange, it is evident and by attacking little bits here and there we can send the message that it is a waste of time putting up graffiti here.”
As a recognised Citizen of the Year, Mr Cox said he has been involved with community service for as long as he can remember.
“My father was a policeman and I grew up in Police Boys club,” he said. “I think growing up in that environment perhaps created a grounding for community service.”
“Then when we had our girls I got involved with P&C and even before that I remember helping to run a fundraising fete at the preschool. I’ve been doing it all my life.”
Whether community service is in Mr Cox’s DNA, or whether it is something he as an individual has been drawn to, it is not just the community of Orange that has benefited from his selflessness.
“I have been involved in all kinds of projects,” he said. “I helped build a school in New Guinea as part of Rotary and am also involved in an organisation called Donations In Kind where we recycle hospital equipment including beds, to send to developing to Pacific nations.”
“My community spirit is not just local, it extends to all communities and places.”
But for Mr Cox, Orange is home and on Sunday 29 October it is there he will be rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.
“I am proud of Orange and I encourage people that it is a great place to live and raise kids,” he said. “It’s not without its social problems, but they are issues that are manageable.”
“Both my girls have grown up and moved away to pursue their careers, but they came back to Orange. That has to be an indication that it’s not a bad place to live.”