Li­ons leave a lit­tle present

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

THEY roared into the re­gion from across the world and left be­hind bet­ter eye­sight and char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions in­clud­ing a new van for the hos­pi­tal.

The In­ter­na­tional Li­ons, present in 208 coun­tries, spent 10 days in Port Dou­glas for their an­nual board meet­ing and were able to at­tend the Li­ons’ World Vi­sion Day in Moss­man, pro­vid­ing free eye test­ing to stu­dents and the wider com­mu­nity.

In­ter­na­tional pres­i­dent Barry Palmer said he wanted to leave some­thing be­hind, a me­mento of the Li­ons, and handed over the keys to a new van to the Moss­man Multi-Pur­pose Health Ser­vice, to drive pa­tients with­out trans­porta­tion to Cairns for spe­cial­ist ap­point­ments.

Di­rec­tor of Nurs­ing Peter Le Grif­fon said they have been train­ing driv­ers in an­tic­i­pa­tion and will be of­fer­ing the ser­vice two days a week so peo­ple can ac­cess spe­cial­ist ser­vices.

‘‘It’s great. The In­ter­na­tional Li­ons have been re­ally sup­port­ive and we have been work­ing re­ally hard with the Li­ons to find a suit­able ve­hi­cle for us,’’ he said.

While vis­it­ing the re­gion, the In­ter­na­tional Li­ons have been out to Low Isles and the Reef, vis­ited Hart­ley’s Croc­o­dile Farm and en­joyed the warm weather.

‘‘There were smash­ing scenes at Hart­ley’s, many peo­ple are not used to croc­o­diles, and they en­joyed the trip to Low Isles,’’ In­ter­na­tional Pres­i­dent Barry Palmer said.

‘‘ All of the Li­ons and their spouses are rapt be­ing in par­adise, they can’t be­lieve how won­der­ful it is and I like the warmth but I haven’t had a chance to es­cape for a swim.

‘‘ My per­sonal high­light has been the trip to Ku­randa, where we handed over $10,000 to start a project for abo­rig­i­nal boys to be­come rangers, give them some­thing to do.’’

Mr Palmer is the first Aust- ralian pres­i­dent for the in­ter­na­tional club and jok­ingly said he is based in an aero­plane, rather than his real home in Syd­ney.

‘‘I feel the weight of Aus­tralia on my shoul­der, they are ex­pect­ing so much think­ing I can just snap my fin­gers, it’s a bit daunt­ing but it has been a fan­tas­tic ride,’’ he said.

‘‘Be­ing able to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia at some­thing has al­ways been a dream, I am re­ally happy do­ing this.

‘‘The hard walker is a project I started and has been the high­light of my life with a hard walk­ing de­vice al­low­ing chil­dren with cere­bral palsy to stand up and walk. We demon­strated one at the open­ing of the board meet­ing at the Sher­a­ton with a young Bris­bane girl and there was not a dry eye in the room.

‘‘We have helped 1600 chil­dren in Aus­tralia walk and those walk­ers are $11,000 each, which the Li­ons has raised on their own which is a tremen­dous achieve­ment.’’

Pic­ture: ANGELIQUE PAT­TER­SON

HAND OVER: Peter Le Grif­fith and In­ter­na­tional Li­ons Pres­i­dent Barry Palmer

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