Members and friends of the Rotary Club of Williamstown were saddened to learn of the passing of our long serving member, Claude Bury, on 29th September. Claude joined the club in 2002 but prior to that he had been a member of the Rotary Club of Laverton from 1990 until 2002.
He was president of that club in the 1999-2000 Rotary year and was influential in having the club’s name changed to Laverton-Point Cook to reflect the residential growth in Point Cook. The club made him a Paul Harris Fellow at its changeover dinner in June 2000. Claude was president of the Williamstown Club in 2004-2005 and our club up-graded his Paul Harris status to sapphire at our changeover dinner in July 2016.
Claude also served on the District 9800 Communications Committee for 6 years (1996-2002) and was the District Communication Officer in 2000-2001. His good friend PDG Des Hosking appointed him to be the District Secretary in the year Des was District Governor (2002-2003). Claude was an early adopter of the internet and the use of emails and in the late 1990’s encouraged other Rotarians to do the same.
However, the role that Claude will best be remembered for, and his great legacy, is the Heartstart program that he started in 2004. The initial aim of the program was to provide defibrillators for children born with heart diseases that put them at risk of sudden death through cardiac arrest. Much to the relief of their parents and loved ones, Claude presented defibrillators to a number of children identified by the Royal Children’s Hospital as being at risk of sudden death.
Through Claude, the Rotary Club of Williamstown became a funding partner with Australian Rotary Health in a research grant to enable paediatric cardiologist, Dr Andrew Davis, at the Royal Children’s Hospital to study the benefits of genetic testing for children at risk of inherited cardiac arrhythmias. The research was carried out from 2006 until 2008. Claude developed close links with the defibrillator manufacturer, Laerdal, and was able to use the Heartstart program to place defibrillators in various workplaces. He travelled far and wide to educate people on the value of defibrillators and how to use them.
In 2006, the Premier of Victoria, Mr Steve Bracks, agreed to Claude’s suggestion to share the cost of placing defib-rillators in schools in Hobsons Bay. Thanks to Claude’s efforts, there are now defibrillators in every school in the municipality of Hobsons Bay.
Claude’s passion for the Heartstart program was inspired by his own health problems which included having a cardi-ac arrest, during which his heart stopped pumping blood for eight minutes. He also suffered three heart attacks and underwent two quadruple heart bypass operations.
After his cardiac arrest, which occurred in 1997, during his annual fishing holiday in Cooktown, North Queensland, Claude was fitted with a combined pacemaker/defibrillator. In the following years, this successfully restarted his heart many times when it had stopped beating. Although Claude’s health had been in failing for a long time, he was always grateful that the defibrillators, for which he was such a passionate advocate, had given him an extra 20 years of life.
The president and members of the Rotary Club of Williamstown extend our sincere sympathies to Claude’s lovely wife, Ann and all their family and friends. RIP Claude.