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Christmas has arrived all too fast, while I was preparing this message on Monday morning we were all rocked with the horrific news coming from Sydney, of a siege that would soon see two beautiful, innocent people lose their life, and a third very troubled man also die.

The initial shock and horror that swept through our nation and across the world was soon followed by the outpouring of public grief and love, not only in response to those who died, but for their families and friends, and, also, a love of the Australian way of life.

It makes me understand even more so that life can be cut short in a moment and that everything we do, every second of the day, is so precious. It also makes me realize just how an organisation like ours is to our immediate communities and throughout the world.

I had intended to use the words repeated by our Rotary International President, Gary Huang, who recently quoted Confucious—To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first set our hearts right.

These words are more poignant today after the events of this week and I know all Rotarians, given the outstanding work being accomplished, live with their hearts set right, and this is the strongest element of the future success of not only our organization but society as a whole.

I take this time to wish all a Merry Christmas on behalf of Yvonne and myself and ask you all to savour the time you spend with those you love, and remember;

The music of Christmas is laughter, the warmth of Christmas is friendship, the spirit of Christmas is love and the gift of Christmas is peace.

May you all experience much music, warmth, spirit and gifts this Christmas.