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Thursday, 3 June 2021
Page: 94


Mr HOGAN (PageAssistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (10:42): This morning I'd like to acknowledge the life of Lucio Saverio Felice, most commonly known and loved in our community as Farmer Lou. He sadly passed away this week. Lou was the founder and the face of Farmer Lou's fruit and veg in South Grafton. He was one of Grafton's best-known and best-loved faces. Whether it was the first time or the thousandth time you walked into the store, you were always greeted with Lou's big smile and wonderful personality. His children describe him as a man with a great heart of gold, always putting others before himself. I extend my thoughts and prayers, and, indeed, our community's, to his wife, Lucia, to his children and their families—Paul and Chelsea, and Ernestina and Nathan; his other child, Maria, sadly predeceased him—and to his grandchildren, James, Nicholas, Leonardo and Matteo. Lou was a true gentleman and a wonderful human being and will be missed greatly by our community. May he rest in peace.

The Living School is a new, innovative school in Lismore. It's the vision of John Stewart, a Lismore local with over 30 years of experience teaching in many educational systems—public, Catholic and independent. His passion for education has driven him to create single-handedly his own new teaching philosophy. John says, 'If the purpose of a school is to improve the community, it has to be in the community.'

John and his wife, Sophie, have created the school in John's old home in Conway Street. The building was originally his father's medical practice, with a house adjoined at the back. John's father, Dr Peter Stewart, a much-loved doctor in our community—my father-in-law still talks very fondly of Dr Stewart—ran his surgery there with his wife, Ruth, for over 35 years. John has completely redesigned the building and also installed an old Red Rattler train as a classroom in the backyard. He's developed a new framework that emphasises the character traits of successful contributors to communities. He calls his framework VAST, which stands for values, attitudes, skills and teachings. With good values students develop the right attitude, and with the right attitude they gain the skills needed to succeed. Rather than the traditional 10-week, four-term year, the Living School has six six-week teaching blocks to maximise student engagement. They also take the students offsite regularly to libraries, sporting fields, regional galleries, museums, gardens and farms. John has also now purchased a large retail space in the heart of Lismore's CBD with the intention of expanding the school. This will also bring a much-needed boost to our CBD. John, congratulations on your vision, not only for education and our children but for our community.