The Ireland Fund Australia’s annual flagship event, The Sydney Garden Party took place on Sunday 12 November 2017. With a theme of “My Fair Lady” a tribute to the late Lady Mary Fairfax, it was fitting that the marquee looked resplendent, the gardens at Fairwater were in full bloom and the lunch was attended by a record 570 guests.
MC Richard Wilkins AM did a wonderful job for the third year in a row of welcoming our record crowd, outlining the day’s activities including our Live Auction; offering an Audi A3 thanks to APN News & Media, Ciaran Davis and Peter Cosgrove, Audi Sutherland, Autosports Group, thanks to Mario Pandelli and Dwyer Ogle and Business Class tickets flying Emirates to Ireland, thanks to Tim Harrowell.
Guests enjoyed fabulous “Pink Lady Cocktails” and beautiful cuisine prepared by Gastronomy, the Ice Cream cart and cappuccino stand were an absolute hit on the day too!
Chairman welcomes guests
Chairman Yvonne le Bas welcomed distinguished guests including past Chairmen, Peter Cosgrove, Alan Joyce AC and John O’Neill AO, Lady Fairfax’s Daughter Anna Cleary and husband David, Trustees Jim Momsen and Lee Thomas, Executive Director Teresa Keating, Consul General Jane Connolly, Former Ambassador Richard O’Brien, her fellow Directors and major sponsors, Emirates Tim Harrowell, Diageo David Smith, Coolmore Stud Niall Ronan, Capital Investment Group, The Star Entertainment Group our all-important Governors, Associates, Benefactors and of course our Young leaders.
The Chairman informed guests that we were very proud to have made a grant round of $416,000 this year to very worthwhile and impactful projects in Ireland including Soar and Solas, Integrated Education in Northern Ireland, and Scholarships for indigenous young Australians at 4 leading schools here in Australia. By 2020 together with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation we have will supported 80 Scholarship places to the tune of $800,000.
Yvonne was also delighted to announce we have added support for new projects this year including Science Gallery Melbourne part of the international network of Science Galleries founded at Trinity College Dublin. Also the Go Foundation headed up by Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin to provide day scholarships for indigenous students. Yvonne paid tribute to our Young Leaders in the room inviting the committee to stand, The Young Leaders’ activities have directly supported The Go Foundation and Suas this year.
Yvonne paid tribute to Lady Mary Fairfax not only for her hospitality but also her wonderful generosity to Ireland and its people through her support for integrated education. Yvonne presented a bouquet of flowers to Lady Fairfax’s daughter Anna to thank her.
Erin Clare, a wonderful up and coming young artist, sang beautiful renditions of “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “So in Love” by Cole Porter, songs we felt Lady Fairfax would truly enjoy.
Prof. Ronan McDonald
Later in the day we heard from Prof. Ronan McDonald who explained that we were thrilled to be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year and to not only have survived but thrived. He thanked all guests present saying we could not have achieved what we have without our friends and supporters. He went on to say we are a group of likeminded people who enjoy each others’ company and get togethers like today, making new friends, social and professional: But more than that, and what makes us different, is that we are a charity getting together allows us to help people less fortunate than ourselves in Ireland and Australia.
Ronan also explained that “we are here at Fairwater today because of a meeting of two wonderful people 30 years ago: our Founder Tony O’Reilly and the late Lady Mary Fairfax. Our 27th Garden party at Fairwater this year and every year is thanks to her support.”
A pledge of support was conducted to further support integrated education in Northern Ireland, a cause close to Lady Mary Fairfax’s heart and supporters gave so generously!
Auctioneer Edward Riley very kindly conducted the pledge and then rolled into the live auction. The items in our live auction sparked a lot of interest including; the Emirates Australian Open Golf Package; a week in Tuscany for 10 people, an Audi A3 Car provided by APN News & Media, Audi Sutherland and AutoSports Group, and of course the stunning Trip for two to Ireland flying Business Class with Emirates,
Not only were the Live Auction items snapped up after a bidding frenzy but we had a wonderful array of Silent Auction items on display for the guests to browse throughout the afternoon. Thank you to all our very generous Live auction highest bidders and our Silent auction highest bidders!
Huge thank you to all our sponsors of the Silent Auction items and the Helping Hand Group for their assistance on the day. Our Programme can be viewed recognising all sponsors and Table Captains.
The party moved down to the water where the Guinness bar and the DJ were in full swing as the sun set over Seven Shillings beach. The 2017 Sydney Garden Party was our most successful to date, both socially and financially, with over 570 guests attending and close to $250,000 profit raised on the day for our flagship projects. This could not have been achieved without the generous support of all involved including our Table Captains and in particular our major sponsors.
Photos: Matt Teague