It was wonderful to see so many friends at our annual supporters’ lunch kindly hosted by David Kelly and PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday 25 July at their new state-of-the-art offices in Barangaroo. David welcomed everyone and said PricewaterhouseCoopers were proud to continue the support of the work of the Fund as they have done for more than 15 years.
Chairman Yvonne Le Bas welcomed Ambassador Ó Caollaí, Consul General Jane Connolly, fellow Board Members, Dr. Tom Moore, Frank Curran, Peter Ryan, Patrick Tuttle and Executive Director Teresa Keating. Yvonne thanked major sponsors, Tim Harrowell, Emirates, Dwyer Ogle, Audi, Niall Ronan, Coolmore, Former Chairman and major supporter Charles Curran AC, The Star Entertainment Group and Lee Thomas representing the Late Lady Mary Fairfax.
Yvonne also welcomed our very important Governors, Associates, Benefactors and Young Leader Committee headed up by John Gallagher and represented by 9 other Young Leaders at the lunch. Yvonne took a moment to remember Andrea McElhinney our former Chairman of the Sydney Young Leader Committee who passed away tragically earlier this year. Andrea made an enormous contribution to the Young Leaders and the Fund in general and will be forever in our thoughts.
Yvonne was also delighted to welcome Shirley Chowdhary, CEO of the GO Foundation and representatives of IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Trinity Alumni, Irish Chartered Accountants Association, the Irish Famine Memorial, Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce, The Light Ball, Sydney Queer Irish and last but not least the Lansdowne Club with whom the Fund is delighted to be partnering as the Club’s Charity of Choice for the next 3 – 5 years.
Yvonne told guests we were very proud to have celebrated our 30th anniversary last year – some of the highlights included:
• Hosting the President of Ireland to dinner with 100 of our supporters when the President commented “The Ireland Funds are a powerful force for good!”
• The Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove launching our scholarship education partnership with Trinity Business School, Trinity College Dublin
• Partnering with Science Gallery Melbourne for their inaugural exhibition; Science Gallery being an award-winning international initiative pioneered by Trinity College Dublin. This year we supported Science Gallery Melbourne to provide a part-time cadetship for an Indigenous student to assist with the exhibition and also to visit and experience Science Gallery in Dublin, as well as bringing a classroom of children from disadvantaged areas in Melbourne and Dublin to visit their respective Exhibitions
Yvonne was delighted to announce our grant round of over $1.8 million for this year commencing June 2018 and told guests we were very proud that 93.5% of tax deductible donations received by us over the last 5 years have been directed to our charities.
Yvonne told guests we had just attended the annual worldwide conference where the guest of honour was Senator George Mitchell who was so vital to the Northern Ireland Peace Process and our Peace Agreement of 1998. 20 years later he provided insights into his time there and commended the Ireland Funds on our work in Ireland North and South.
Yvonne thanked guests for all their support, without them we could not do what we do; and asked guests to introduce us to their networks to help us create more awareness to directly help more people.
Yvonne told guests we want to work with every Irish and other relevant organisation, we all have our unique purpose but together we can form the largest network of Friends of Ireland and be more effective.
Lastly, Yvonne asked for support for our upcoming events: our annual Brisbane lunch on 3 August; our Global 5K in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on 22 September and our Sydney Garden Party on Sunday 25 November.
H.E. Breandán Ó Caollaí Ambassador of Ireland to Australia thanked guests on Ireland’s behalf not only for their financial support but their friendship and care for the people of Ireland. The Ambassador said with so many uncertainties in the world support for the people of Ireland is as important today as ever.
Photos: Kristy McVay Photography