25th October, 2009

Supporters Luncheon

This year’s theme for the Australian Ireland Funds Annual Sydney Garden Party, which took place on Sunday, 25 October 2009, was “Beach Party” with many of the 500 guests dressing up in board shorts, pretty summer dresses and beach chic. In addition to the usual beach attire were umbrellas, rain coats and gum boots – even the dark rain clouds and torrential rain that hit Sydney just as the guests arrived could not dampen the spirits and positive festive vibe of the day. Lady Mary Fairfax’s home, ‘Fairwater’, in Double Bay provided a spectacular setting for the event.

On arrival, guests were welcomed by beach babes and enjoyed canapés and pre luncheon cocktails under the summer themed marquee complete with palms trees, surf boards and beach balls galore.

President and CEO of The Worldwide Ireland Funds, Kingsley Aikins CBE began the days’ formalities and gave guests an entertaining and informative update on The Ireland Funds before introducing well known and much loved Australian Television Journalist and Personality Ray Martin,  who very kindly donated his time to be the Master Of Ceremonies for the Garden Party. Ray formally introduced Chairman Charles Curran AC who officially welcomed guests including Lady Mary Fairfax AC, OBE, Ambassador ÓFainín and Mrs. ÓFainín, Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and Mrs. McCreevy, Consul General Patrick Scullion, CEO of the Australian Indigenous Education Fund Andrew Penfold, Senator the Hon. Helen Coonan, Peter Brennan, Chairman & Yvonne le Bas Deputy Chairman of the Lansdowne Club, and the Hon Andrew Peacock AC.

The Chairman made a presentation of our Australian Ireland Fund, Waterford Wedgwood Governor Suite Glasses to Ron & Helen Porter, Kim Maloney and Tony O’Sullivan for their wonderful support and in recognition of them as Governors of The Australian Ireland Fund.

Guests were entertained by Irish-Australian singer songwriter Damien Leith, winner of 2006 ‘Australia Idol’, who had the whole marquee captivated by his winning voice and guitar playing of songs such as – Danny Boy.  Guests were then treated to music by the ‘Endless Summer’ Beach band who had everyone singing and dancing along to surf classic hits by artists such as the ‘Beach Boys’. The crowd while they enjoyed a menu which included proscuitto, fig & Gorgonzola tart, Smoked salmon terrine, oven baked Mullaway with hand cut potatoes and platters of delicious dessert canapés and a selection of baby gelato & ice creams.

The Live Auction was a great success with Edward Riley of McGrath Estate Agents, our Auctioneer for the day, delivering a lively and entertaining Auction.

The Live Auction items on offer included

  • A limited edition John Lennon's handwritten song manuscript for "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" courtesy of Maureen McCarthy
  • 7 Days stay at the Chateau de Beauregard in France, thanks to Dominique’s Villas of London
  • a 7 Nights luxury cruise on any 2010 itinerary for River Cloud II exploring the heart of Europe courtesy of Sales Activation Marketing and Sea Cloud Cruises
  • The indulgent Posh Package which included a Posh Boutiques $3,200 Gift Voucher, a Cosmopolitan Shoes $1000 Gift Voucher, a $500 Gift Voucher from Neil Grigg – Sydney Milliner, a Franck Provost Paris ‘hair experience’ for two people and Stairway to Beauty voucher to go towards a day spa and make up courtesy of Stairway to Beauty.
  • A 5 night Magnificent Vacation to the new Hamilton Island Luxury Yacht Club Villas courtesy of Hamilton Island and Hamilton Island Luxury Yacht Club Villas
  • 3 nights at Bannisters, a beautiful coastal resort in Mollymook, including accommodation in the new Pinnacle Penthouse, dinner for two in the new ‘Rick Stein at Bannisters’ Restaurant,  two one hour massages, a round of golf at Mollymook Hilltop championship golf course, a cruise on a 38ft catamaran for two on Jarvis Bay including light lunch from Dolphin Watch Cruises. Courtesy of Bannisters
  • An amazing Six Senses Journey Package to the Gulf of Thailand including 4 nights stay in a luxuriously appointed Beach Villa Suite with daily breakfast for two people, courtesy of Six Senses Soneva Kiri
  • The smart Fortwo Cabrio MHD from Mercedes-Benz, one of the Worlds most efficient cars featuring Eco Start/ Stop Technology courtesy of Mercedes Benz and APN Outdoor
  •  a ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ to London which included two luxurious Pearl Business Class tickets to Dublin thanks to Etihad Airways, three nights at one of the exclusive Small Luxury Hotels of the World, 2 nights in a luxurious double room in the Garden Wing with Full Irish Breakfast each morning at Merrion Hotel, 4 nights Bed & Breakfast accommodation around Ireland courtesy of Tourism Ireland and a week’s Class C car hire in Ireland courtesy of AVIS. The highest bidder for this prize was Mr & Mrs Jim Sweeny.  

We thank everyone most sincerely for all those Live Auction items which made this years live auction a success. We also thank all who supported the Silent Auction details of all can be found in our Programme printed especially for the day and available on this site. 

Guinness/Diageo provided us with all our Guinness & Kilkenny for guests on the day and Smirnoff for our cocktails – we thank Sam Reid very much. Thanks also to Setanta Wines and Tony & Sheilagh Sullivan for their donation of Setanta wines for the Garden Party which were very special, to Di Lorenzo for setting up the café bar and providing the cappuccinos on the day, and to Jenni Thomas of Suntory for the donation of Tullamore Dew for Irish Coffees, Carolans, Irish Mist and Magners. Last but not least to our Governor and Director Peter Ryan for the donation of Moet champagne for our corporate tables.

Throughout the day guests partook in the “Beach Bonanza” game with the opportunity to win a package valued at $12,500.  The package included one week’s accommodation in a 4 bedroom luxurious villa in the fabulous Sheraton Mirage Resort in the town of Port Douglas, North Queensland, courtesy of Fund Governor and Director Ron Porter, a lunch for 10 people in the Bayside Lounge of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre to the value of $1,000 courtesy of the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre and a cash prize of $2,000.

The 2009 Sydney Garden Party was successful both socially and financially with more than 500 guests attending and in excess of $130,000 being raised on the day for projects of peace and reconciliation and integrated education in Northern Ireland and Indigenous education here in Australia.

This could not have been achieved without the generous support of all involved but in particular our major sponsors:

  • APN News and Media, Brendan Hopkins
  • APN Outdoor, Richard Herring
  • Etihad Airwats, Lindsay White
  • Mercedes Benz, Chris Knaap & Wolfgang  Schrempp 
  • Australian Radio Network, Bob Longwell

We also thank Liz Tailor of Tailored Events who has catered for us for the last seven years at Fairwater, the food was delightful.

We truly are very grateful to all our table captains, supporters and sponsors, individuals and companies alike, without whom our work would not be possible! Thank you to all for making this year’s Australian Ireland Fund Sydney Garden Party such a great success.