On 5th March 2009, Lady Mary Fairfax opened up her beautiful home ‘Fairwater’ once again to The Australian Ireland Fund, with its amazing Sydney harbour views, as a venue for the Ambassador, His Excellency Máirtín Ó Fainín and Chairman Charles Curran AC to host The Australian Ireland Fund annual supporters reception.
The evening provided an opportunity for the Chairman to thank our supporters and to provide them with an update on the activities of The Australian Ireland Fund.
The Chairman firstly advised that at a Board meeting earlier in the day, the Board was pleased to approve the appointment of Tony Harrington as a Director. Tony had been CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia and he remains a partner of that firm, in addition to having a senior global role for PricewaterhouseCoopers. We are delighted that Tony has also become a member of the Governor’s Programme.
Earlier in the day we also welcomed new Director Yvonne le Bas, who also takes on the responsibility of Honorary Treasurer. She occupies a senior position with Westpac and she is Deputy Chair of the Lansdowne Club. Yvonne is a Benefactor of the Fund and has been a strong supporter for many years.
In welcoming Yvonne, the Board also expressed its thanks to Sandy Bathgate who had been a Director and Honorary Treasurer for 10 years. During that time, Sandy has made an immense contribution to the Fund. We know that he will maintain his keen interest in the Fund and we look forward to seeing him regularly at Fund activities.
The Chairman also acknowledge other Directors who were present; Jane Cosgrove, Peter Cosgrove, Ron Porter, Peter Ryan and Briege Tuite. He also acknowledged Executive Director Teresa Keating and her assistant Aimee Garsuta.
The Chairman welcomed Governors, Goldman Sachs JBWere represented by Joe Fayyad, Kim Maloney, Tony O’Sullivan and Ron and Helen Porter. Life Governors present included Sir Ron Brierley, Peter Cosgrove, Lady Fairfax, Mary Lee, Brendan O’Brien, Peter Ryan, Toni Ryan and Briege Tuite. In doing so the Chairman told guests that our Governors and Life Governors’ contributions have provided very significant funds for the various works supported by The Australian Ireland Fund.
Also acknowledged were representatives of Corporate Governors, APN News and Media, represented by Richard Herring, Mercedes Benz, represented by Chris Knapp and Qantas, represented by Joyce Weir. These Corporate Sponsors provide absolutely essential support for our Sydney Garden Party and we are honoured and grateful to have the support of those leading corporations.
The Chairman also welcomed a number of other important supporters; Australian Radio Network represented by Bob Longwell, Etihad Airlines represented by Lindsay White (Etihad supported our Brisbane Garden Party last year), KPMG represented by Caoimhe Sheehan, Red Rock Leisure , represented by Brendan O’Brien, PricewaterhouseCoopers, represented by Steven Bosiljevac, Ron Porter and Peter Ryan. He extended a particular welcome to Tony and Sheilagh Sullivan, owners of Setanta Wines, who donated the wines for our Reception and flew up from Adelaide to join us for the evening.
Also present were a number of generous providers of services and items for our silent auction and in expressing words of welcome and acknowledgement to all of our many valued supporters here tonight, I again thank them all for what they do to support the Fund, which is vital to enable us to continue our important work.
The Chairman indicated that our supporters in Australia have been enabling us to support important projects for peace and reconciliation in Ireland, particularly in the area of integrated education in Northern Ireland, where sadly only 6% of children are educated in an integrated environment. As he reported at last year’s Sydney Garden Party, we remain committed to this initiative but feel that at the same time as helping Ireland, we would like to contribute meaningfully to Australia, which has been hospitable to so many Irish families over many generations.
A Committee of the Board has developed a strategy paper to implement this new initiative and plans will be developed during the course of the year to identify Australian projects which would be most suitable for the Fund to become associated with and support. It is proposed that particular emphasis will be given to projects involving reconciliation, so that the experience learned at such a high cost in Ireland can be applied in our local Australian environment.
Chairman Charles Curran also took the opportunity to present Lady Mary Fairfax with a beautiful box of Signature Long Stemmed Roses, courtesy of James Stevens of ‘Roses Only’, as a token of thanks for hosting such a wonderful event.
The Ambassador His Excellency Máirtín ÓFainín also addressed the crowd and shared the appreciation of the Irish Government and its people for all the money raised to help the numerous projects of Integrated education in Northern Ireland. The Ambassador encouraged supporters to stay with us and help us to continue this important work.