Australia 18 June: Canberra, ACT

Mayors embrace the Peace Run

The annual Australian Council of Local Government Conference is presently taking place at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. Today one of our National Coordinators, Stacey Marsh, accompanied by the ACT and Northern Territory Coordinators Prachar Stegemann and Noivedya Juddery, and photographer Son Luong, dropped in to the Conference.

This was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with several of the Mayors we have met along the way during this year's journey around the continent, as well as some of those we will be meeting in the coming weeks – and a surprise reunion with a cherished friend and long-time supporter of the Peace Run ...

Several mayors gathered during the morning tea break – the lady in red (front left) is Trina Thompson ...

... Trina was the first Mayor we met on day 2 of the Run, at the Festival of the Falling Leaf in Tumut.

Throughout the half hour we were there, delegates kept appearing as though drawn by the flame, either to find out what was going on, or else in recognition of the Torch they had only recently met ...

... Mayor Lisa Ruffell had greeted us in the Council Chambers in Bendigo with several of her Council Members back on 1 May ...

... and was thrilled to catch up with Stacey once more, and to hear of the progress of the Run in the 6 weeks since we last saw her.

Mayor Karen Stephens of Glenelg Shire in Victoria, came and addressed the children at Portland Primary School on 13 May in her full mayoral regalia ...

... we hardly recognised her today in her 'normal' attire! ...

... though we could certainly never forget her friendly, wholehearted support for the Peace Run in Portland!

Mayor Kirsten Alexander and Councillor Raelene Hanley of the City of Sturt Council in South Australia are enthusiastic supporters of the Peace Run ...

... Mayor Alexander ran with the Torch in her home town of Charles Sturt on 18 May

... she was also happy to receive a copy of the new Peace Run highlights DVD with footage of the first 6 weeks of the Run, in which she features.

Two more South Australian Mayors – David O'Loughlin and Gary Johanson – had not had the chance to meet our team last month, but were only too happy to join their Charles Sturt colleagues in holding the Torch today.

Councillor Bill Massie was very happy to hear that the Run had been well received in Fremantle only 10 days ago.

Mayor Sue Doherty of South Perth had greeted us only last week at Manning Primary School, where she addressed the students and led the runners around the oval ...

... South Perth is the site of a statue of the Peace Run founder, Sri Chinmoy, as Mayor Doherty was only too happy to remind us today!

Northern Territory Coordinator Noivedya Juddery, was very happy to have the chance to meet with Councillor David Laugher (Katherine) and NT Mayors – Mayor Alan McKay of Litchfied Council and Mayor Fay Miller of Katherine Town Council, both of whom are looking forward to greeting the Torch next month ...

... Mayor McKay is already making plans for our visit to Humpty Doo in early July, and gave lots of helpful advice on activities to entertain and keep the team busy during our visit to the Litchfield region.

Councillor Ian Rasmussen of the Western Downs Regional Council in Queensland – himself a runner – was fascinated to learn about the Peace Run. Even though our route does not pass through Dalby, there may still be a chance one of our teams might be able to take a day trip detour to the area.

Councillor Gurdeep Singh urged us to contact his Council in Hornsby (NSW) in the hope we might be able to arrange a nice program when the Run reaches Hornsby in early August.

We were most thrilled and surprised to meet again after many years with our dear friend Margaret Reynolds, formerly a Senator for Queensland and now living in Tasmania ...

... Professor Reynolds, a tireless worker for the good of others whose heart is as large as the world itself, sponsored and supported several initiatives of the Sri Chinmoy Peace Foundation in the 1990s, both at Federal Parliament in Canberra and in Townsville ...

... among other interests and responsibilities, Margaret is attending the Conference in her role as Chairperson of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government ...

... Margaret was accompanied today by Councillor Gordon Thomson of Christmas Island Council, who warmly invited the Peace Run to visit Christmas Island at our earliest opportunity.