Rotary conference autumn tonic for town businesses

THE summer may well be over but the conference season here in Eastbourne is still alive and kicking – with hundreds of Rotarians due in town this weekend for the latest in a string of till-ringing events.

Hot on the heels of the United Kingdom Independence Party’s annual meet-up and a religious conference, the charitable fundraisers are set to descend on Eastbourne in force.

Organisers are expecting around 750 Rotarians, together with their partners, to provide a post-summer bonus to local businesses, like restaurants and hotels.

It will be the third time in the last nine years that Rotary Wessex has used the conference facilities at the Devonshire Park Centre for its annual conference, and once again the group is setting up its conference headquarters at the Grand Hotel.

Caroline Millman, Rotary Wessex’s district governor, said, “Eastbourne is one of our favourite conference locations, so it’s great to be back here again.

“In addition to the Devonshire Park Centre, Eastbourne has great hotels and B&Bs for our delegates, some fantastic shops and restaurants and, of course, the stunning seafront with its promenade which is home to the famous Floral Carpet Garden, the Victorian Pier and the 1930s art deco bandstand.

“We are delighted that the deputy mayor of Eastbourne, Councillor Mike Thompson, is able to spend some time with us and to welcome us to the town.

“Rotary is the biggest service organisation in the world.

“We are all ordinary people who give of our time and skills when and where we can to try and support those in our society – both at home and overseas – who need our help.

“Our annual conference gives us a chance to showcase some of our activities, to understand and learn what more we could be doing, and to enjoy the company of fellow Rotarians and a lovely seaside weekend break.”

Among the guests who will be speaking at the event are Big Issue founder John Bird, MBE, public speaking trainer Vanessa Ugatti, successful secondary school head Sue Anderson, who is now working freelance specialising in school improvement, and Karen Brown who was previously chairman of ActionAid UK, deputy director of programmes for Channel 4 and a management and communications consultant in Whitehall.

Tourism experts predict the conference season generates upwards of £4million a year to the economy here in Eastbourne.