Anne Heagney – Local Hero

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Uralla born Anne Heagney does not take her stable country upbringing for granted; in fact, she is about to abseil a Sydney skyscaper, all in the name of a charity that provides a supportive environment for troubled young people.


Tell us about your upbringing in Uralla?

I was born in Armidale and grew up on a property just outside of Uralla. I lived there until I was 18.

The town remains a special place for me, and my parents still live there.

I completed all of my schooling in the area, attending the local Uralla Catholic primary school and then making the trip to Armidale each day for high school at Duval.

I loved growing up in Uralla – particularly life on a property. With seemingly endless space, my sisters and I spent most of our spare time outdoors riding push bikes and playing in the tree house. After moving to Sydney, I certainly miss the quiet and the space that Uralla has in abundance.

When and why did you move away from home?

After I completed my high school education, I decided I needed a change and in 2008 I moved to Newcastle to attend university. I spent four years living in Newcastle, studying a combined business and commerce degree.

I was fortunate that my first move out of home was with my best friend from Uralla. Having never lived out of home before, we found a new independence and freedom in being accountable only to ourselves. The downside, of course, was that with this came the burden of cooking and cleaning for ourselves.

Newcastle was a great first move, as it was still close enough for us to go home for  weekend visits. I loved living in Newcastle; it has a great relaxed lifestyle. With its beautiful beaches and eateries, it was far too easy to avoid uni work and spend the day at the beach.

In 2011, I completed my degree, and as I wanted to pursue a career in finance, I decided to move to Sydney. I began as a graduate in financial services with AMP at the beginning of 2012 and worked at the Circular Quay office. As part of the  graduate program, I rotate roles and location, so am now based in St Leonards at the AMP Horizons Financial Planning Academy. Eight months into my role, I have learned a great deal, and I am thoroughly enjoying the program.

What are you raising money for?

The AMP Abseil for Youth fundraiser began in 2010. I saw it as a great way to contribute to a worthy cause, and it sounded like so much fun! The fundraiser supports the work of the Sir David Martin Foundation’s Triple Care Farm, which provides a supportive environment for troubled young people, including those suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues. The Farm provides an ideal environment of peace and healing for emotionally hurt and troubled young people. Over a 12 week period, the Farm takes the first step in rebuilding broken lives, gently helping young people to untangle their problems and equipping them with the skills to make a positive change in their lives.

When and where will you be abseiling, and are you going to be trained?

The AMP building at Circular Quay in Sydney is Australia’s first skyscraper and turns 50 this year! On 19 and 20 October, participants in the abseiling challenge will begin on the 26th floor and abseil to the ground. Being on the front of Circular Quay, the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House from the AMP building will be spectacular.

This is my first year participating in the challenge and while I am currently feeling quite relaxed about the adventure, I’m sure I will be more nervous in October. I went skydiving earlier in the year, so to some degree my fear of heights has been cured; however, I have never abseiled before, so this presents a new challenge. I think I will try my hand at abseiling before October, just so I know what to expect on the day.

How can our readers sponsor your abseil?

As part of my fundraising challenge, I have committed to raise $1,500 for the Sir David Martin Foundation. I am so lucky to have supportive friends and family who have already made generous donations. I would love to surpass my goal of $1,500 and appreciate any support from FOCUS readers. The easiest way to donate is to visit my fundraising page:

We hear that you are also about to take what some would call ‘the leap of a lifetime’. Who’s the lucky man?

Yes, that’s right. Myles and I have known each other for much of our lives – we went to the same primary school and moved in the same circle of friends. We began dating in high school and got engaged in April earlier this year. Myles also lives and works in Sydney.

When I asked Myles if he would take part in the abseiling challenge with me, he promptly turned me down. His fear of heights is too great to abseil down the side of a 26-storey building. He will, however, be there for moral support on the day.

Will you come home to marry?

Myles and I are both from Uralla and most of our family and friends still reside in the area, so we will be returning home for the wedding towards the end of 2013. It will be difficult planning the wedding from Sydney, but we are fortunate that our families are more than happy to assist with the preparations.

We are praying that we will have beautiful sunny weather on the day, but we are all too aware that weather in the New England is highly unpredictable. While we haven’t done much in the way of planning and preparation, we are looking forward to the day. I will have more energy to focus on the wedding once the AMP Abseil for Youth is over – that will be a big achievement.

Thanks Anne.

This story was published in issue 64 of the New England Focus

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