McNamara takes chamber reins
By KEN SAPWELL
FORMER Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce vice-president Barry McNamara has taken over the leadership reins following the resignation of longserving president, Marie Robbie.
Mr McNamara, who is best known as co-ordinator of the highly successful Wintersun Festival run in conjunction with the chamber, was elected to the top post unopposed.
Members paid tribute to Ms Robbie's untiring work in helping put Coolangatta back on the map during her 10 years as chamber president.
Ms Robbie told 200 people attending the Southern Gold Coast Chamber Of Commerce's annual meeting and award night on Monday that she was stepping down to allow some fresh blood to be injected into the leadership role. Mr McNamara said Ms Robbie's decision spelt the end of an era which saw the re-emergence of Coolangatta as a popular family holiday destination.
"She did a fantastic job and has left a legacy that she can well be proud of," Mr McNamara said.
"During her decade at the helm she built a strong leadership team within the chamber.
"She has been an inspirational leader for us all.
"She has done a lot of work to raise the profile of the southern Gold Coast.
"She has helped turn it from an almost forgotten corner of the coast to a preferred holiday destination, particularly for young families.
"Ms Robbie was also invited to join the board of the Gold Coast Tourism Bureau, a position which she used to further increase interest in the area.
"She was always active on the political front in raising the profile of the area."
Mr McNamara said his predecessor had also overseen a boom in tourist accommodation in the southern Gold Coast, spearheaded by her own Beach House apartments which she managed.
This year the president's award went to the Coolangatta Arts and Crafts Market, one of the regular attraction of the town which has been oper- ating on the Coolangatta beachfront since 1988.
Ms Robbie said apart from proving a major tourist drawcard the market also raised money for local charities and was a big supporter of the Wintersun Festival.