A love letter to the city of Penrith

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As you may have read in our previous edition, I was last week named Penrith’s Citizen of the Year for 2024.

The award is in recognition of my 15+ years at Penrith’s newspaper of record, The Western Weekender, as well as for various charity and community work around town.

I admit, at first, all of this felt a bit much. There are people who do such great work around Penrith that deserve to be honoured, many outside of the commercial space.

But as different calls, text messages and emails came in over the past week, the feeling of pride took over.

Not personal pride from the perspective of the certificate that will hang on the wall but pride that my name will sit alongside so many other great Penrith people who have been granted this honour.

And while someone 100 years from now may have little interest in finding out more about this Troy Dodds fellow, I feel proud to leave a little mark on our city’s history.

Especially given there’s every chance the Dodds name will ultimately disappear from Penrith (some may be happy to hear it!). My daughter is the last to carry the name, and while she may choose not to get married, it’s likely the family line is close to its conclusion in terms of the surname.

I never really thought much about that until recently, which I guess comes with getting a little more grey in the hair.

Above all, I’m honoured to receive this recognition because Penrith is a city I love. For all its faults, it has always has your back.

And I have become more and more proud of it over the years.

I’ve certainly cared less and less about what people think of it, too.

I don’t care that my favourite places to eat are Happy Inn and Chicken Man.

Couldn’t be fussed if people don’t think Penrith Stadium is the eighth wonder of the world, but I certainly do.

The beer just tastes better out of the tap at Panthers Leagues Club.

I don’t mind sweltering through summer or shivering through winter. All part of the fun.

The Nepean River? A roller-coaster of emotions, to be honest. I’ve used the river walk to clear the head, make some of my biggest life decisions, start countless exercise regimes and perhaps, most importantly, used it to connect with my Dad through some brisk mornings in 2015 and 2016, where regular walks leading up to his passing would become some of our fondest memories together.

When you grow up in the one place, and you stick around long enough into your adult years, it stands to reason all of your firsts happen in that part of the world. And for me, Penrith will always be my city of firsts.

Troy Dodds has been named Penrith’s Citizen of the Year.

First kiss? Behind my geography classroom in Year 7 at Jamison High School. I fell in a hole afterwards and then became so nauseous I couldn’t eat for days.

First work experience? At Advantage Computer Maintenance on Batt Street. I was terrible. Broke some bloke’s computer and was so nervous I didn’t ask to go the toilet for the entire week.

First drink? I had a can of Foster’s at my mate’s 16th birthday party in South Penrith, and threw up on the way home. I’ve become a much more seasoned drinker these days, for better or worse. First legal drink, by the way, was a Midori and Lemonade at Panthers. A cool character, I am.

First loves, first heartbreaks, first cars, first jobs, first sports teams. All in Penrith.

Participation trophies were my specialty in sport, by the way.

First Panthers game? I couldn’t tell you. But it would have been with my parents in the late 1980s.

The first game I vividly remember being at in person was on June 30, 1991 when Penrith beat North Sydney 8-0. I know I’d been to many games before then, but for some reason, that one stands out.

I’ll have plenty more to say about Penrith Park in the months ahead as it prepares for its biggest redevelopment in history.

But that place has been much more than a footy ground to me over the years.

A forever connection to my home town regardless of what was going on in life at the time.

Weekender Editor Troy Dodds chats with Sales Team Leader, Chris Middleton.

I met my wife in Penrith. Saw her for the first time when I had a desk next to the toilet in the Weekender’s old office just above where our office is now, and she worked at ABCOE. Her regular Thursday morning paper pick-up became a highlight of the week.

My daughter was born in Nepean Private Hospital. She will grow up in Penrith, she has no choice there, and regardless of where she lives or what she does in the future, I hope she remembers it fondly.

I bought my first house in Penrith, a three bedroom villa in Stafford Street – one of our city’s oldest streets.

Bought my first car here too, at Sinclair Hyundai, and my second from Penrith Toyota on the Great Western Highway.

Professionally, I couldn’t be prouder of what we as a newspaper at The Western Weekender have achieved over my time here.

I’m proud of the journalists I was able to give a start, and where so many of them have ended up.

I’m proud to have played a role in the publishing of tens of thousands of stories about our city, many of which would not get told without the Weekender.

And I’m proud we’ve outlasted the big guys along the way.
Penrith is a unique part of the world.

I have no idea if I’ll be here forever. But part of me certainly will.

Troy Dodds

Troy Dodds is the Weekender's Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia's leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.

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