Rotary world arrives

Rotary International president Ron Burton was all smiles in Leura last week.

Rotary International president Ron Burton was all smiles in Leura last week.

The Blue Mountains is set to benefit when the 105th Rotary International Convention concludes in Sydney Olympic Park today, with the global humanitarian organisation's president Ron Burton predicting many of the 20,000 visiting Rotarians will choose to sightsee in our region.

"Because it's a long way to get to Australia, I think many of them will feel they might as well spend some time in and also around town," Mr Burton told the Gazette.

"It's going to be a huge economic boon for Sydney and we hope the Blue Mountains too.

"I think your area will attract a lot of the visitors after the convention concludes - it's an absolutely gorgeous place."

Leura's Fairmont Resort hosted a quarterly meeting of the board of Rotary International last Friday, attended by 19 current directors plus eight incoming directors.

Mr Burton said the previous weekend he and several directors visited The Three Sisters and also met Rotary Down Under executive director Bob Aitken in the Lower Mountains, stopping at Winmalee at fire damaged homes of two Rotarians and also visiting a local Rotary farmers' market.

"Bob is a good friend of mine who is retiring in June - he is such an engaging and competent individual."

The convention was launched in spectacular style on May 30 when 340 Rotarians scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge (with BridgeClimb) holding 250 national flags in what Mr Aitken described as "an amazing scene.

"It ended up raising $120,000 for Rotary International's End Polio Now project, which will be used to vaccinate 240,000 kids," he said.

"When the project began in 1985 there were 359,000 cases of polio in 25 countries and so far this year there's been 81 cases in three countries - Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria."

Mr Burton's term as Rotary International president ends later this month.

The Oklahomo resident said highlights have been "the opportunity to travel all across the world to see Rotarians trying to improve people's quality of life and make the world a better place.

"I've also enjoyed the role of keeping the communication lines open between Rotary clubs and districts, which forge partnerships across the world to implement humanitarian projects.

"There are now 34,000 Rotary clubs around the world - including six in the Blue Mountains - and 1.2 million members worldwide.

"There is a saying that community service is the price you pay for the space you occupy and I think people who really engage with Rotary get a sense of satisfaction in helping others and find when they do good for someone else their life changes too."

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