People with a purpose

Former Rotary Youth Exchange, Ophelie Pouilleui

It was a great privilege for Joy and I to be able to attend the wedding of Ophelie to Sean Magnusson in Cairns last week. Many will remember Ophelie as our Exchange Student from France in 2002-03 during Brian Doherty’s year as President. Also the large contingent of members, partners and friends who on a visit to France were entertained by Ophelie and her University class to a 7 course meal, cooked and served by the students. It was of Michelin Hat standard and a highlight of the trip.


How did a French lady come to meet a Scottish man and marry in Australia you may ask? Well it is a long story but cut short it is as follows. Some 18 months ago Ophelie arrived back in Australia (not the first time back) and set off to far North Queensland looking for work. With her hospitality study in France and following work experience it was not going to be difficult to find a job suitable to her expertise in the hospitality industry. Sean is a fully qualified Chief with a strong reputation in that field and has been in Australia for 13 years, now an Australian citizen. Circumstance intervened in that they both ended up working at the same venue and the rest is history. Well that is the short version and Ophelie now has her application for a permanent Australian Visa lodged with the relevant Government department.


The wedding with a very moving ceremony under a large banyan tree was a real multi-cultural event with people from France, Scotland, Iceland, and Spain just to name some.  The reception venue on the Cairns waterfront provided an idyllic setting for the following function. Three of Ophelie’s host parents were able to make the trip, Andrew & Sue Cairns, Bev & Ellis Ormerod and Jane & John McLean. This just goes to show how long term relationships are developed through the Rotary Youth Exchange program. Andrew Cairns was given the honour as Aussie Dad, to give the bride away and it was a credit to him on the way he carried this out and responded later in his speech at the reception.


It is not all over yet for the wedding of Ophelie and Sean. Obviously many family and friends from France and Scotland were not able to travel the great distance so later in about 3 weeks they will again be married, this time in Scotland. That I am sure will be different but again a very moving occasion, one which Joy and I are sorry we could not make to see the second part for Mr and Mrs Magnusson.


Garry Gunnell and Joy Bruce.






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