Musician John Swan has made his home in Coffs Harbour and is hoping to make a difference.
Musician John Swan has made his home in Coffs Harbour and is hoping to make a difference.

John Swan is willing to lend a hand

NINETEEN years ago, singer-songwriter John Swan was laying on the floor sure he would die - given a month to live, his liver shot from drink and drugs.

He was determined to get clean and to live so he put himself through detox at home.

"It was everything you see in the movies and worse," John admitted. But it stuck.

"I haven't had a cigarettes or drugs or alcohol in 19 years."

Now at 67, a bout with cancer last year has made him even more determined - not just to live but to help others and it is something he obviously excels at.

The man better known as Swanee, and maybe even as older brother of equally reformed hard- living rocker Jimmy Barnes, has just moved to Coffs Harbour and is hoping to continue playing music and helping people in his new home town.

Named Senior Australian of the Year in 2015 and earning an OAM in 2016 for his work with charities, John - best-known for his solo hits Lady What's Your Name and If I Were A Carpenter - has been determined to use the past 19 years to help others over the years becoming patron of many organisations including Little Heroes (which helps seriously ill children).

He said the move from South Australia had been prompted by his wife Virginia who had recently lost her mother and needed her own change, finding it after falling in love with a house in Coffs during a visit to see her sister who already lived in the area.

"She has moved so many places for me, if I had to be in Melbourne she moved there, I thought It was time," he said.

"I have been in Coffs Harbour six months now and I love it."

For Swanee, moving to the Mid North Coast has given him breathing space and a chance to work on his anxiety disorder but while he is still working and enjoying gardening and being involved with his charities outside the area, he wants more.

"I have the sort of job these days where I might fly to Sydney or Perth for a gig once a week and then come home," he explained.

"While I'm here I don't want to just be here sitting on my bum.

"I want to start doing things in Coffs Harbour. I went out at Christmas time to see if I could help or sing for the homeless but they already had someone.

"You can't just walk in somewhere and say I have shiny gold No.1 albums and my brother is Jimmy Barnes."

He said he wanted to let people know he was living in the area and willing to help.

Any charity wishing to contact him can do so through Swanjohn001@ or through his John Swan Facebook page.

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