Welcome Rotarians

TAREE will experience an influx of Rotarians hailing from far and wide as more than 400 participants converge on Taree for the Rotary District Celebration Conference.

The conference, which begins today and runs through to Sunday, will be staged at Club Taree and will play host to Rotarians, guest speakers and youth exchange students over the weekend.

"The celebration of Rotary in district 9650 is a great opportunity to outreach and really showcase what Rotary does in our community," district governor, Brian Beesley said.

Brian Leggott, chairman of the Rotary conference organising committee, said this weekend's event has been a culmination of more than 15 months planning.

The committee has been busy this week setting up and putting the finishing touches to preparation to ensure Rotarians from as far as Coffs Harbour in the north, Forster in the south and Lightning Ridge out west, have a top class taste of the Manning.

"It will be a really big weekend with people from 56 Rotary clubs coming to the Taree," he said.

Youth exchange students from 14 different countries are also expected to add colour to the opening ceremony on Saturday.

A large focus of the event will be the chance for participants to reflect on where Rotarians see the district progressing in the future.

Mr Beelsey said the conference being staged in the area is a bonus as the attendees are all staying in the local area and will provide financial stimulus to the Taree economy.

"Many have taken the optional tours and will take self-guided trips through the Manning and Great Lakes region," Mr Beesley said.

The conference has drawn a speaker all the way from Hong Kong, Peter Sharp, who is the director of Walmart Realty.

Peter, the son of Kevin and May Sharp of Pampoolah, is a Taree boy who worked his way from Billingham's Menswear to his current position via employment with Kmart.

Peter will recount the Walmart success story from the dream of one man, to the largest corporation in the world. He will relate the story to the work done by Rotarians.

Another speaker expected to engage the conference attendees is Stuart Heal, a Rotarian and business mentor based in New Zealand. Stuart will speak about the way modern the Rotary club is changing to meet the needs of the next generation while still building on the skills and foundations of the past.

Dan Gridley, organiser of the Postie Bike Challenge, will explain how his organisation of an annual postie bike through the Australian outback has resulted in more than $200,000 worth of postie bikes donated to help the work of Rotary.

Mr Beesley said the support of major sponsors Southern Cross Ten, and the Manning Valley Business Chamber, has allowed the district to secure the conference for Taree. "Without their support, this wouldn't have happened. We thank them."

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