The Australian Ireland Fund’s annual flagship event of the year, The Sydney Garden Party took place on Sunday 13 November 2016. MC Richard Wilkins AM did a wonderful job of welcoming our record crowd of 560 guests, outlining the day’s activities including our Live Auction; offering an Audi A1 thanks to APN News & Media, Audi Sutherland, Autosports Group and Business Class tickets flying Emirates to Ireland, thanks to Tim Harrowell. Our sincere thanks to Mecca Cosmetica for providing a fabulous Mecca bag of goodies for our table captains.
Guests were enjoying beautiful cuisine prepared by Gastronomy, when Chairman John O’Neill AO took to the stage to the sounds of Irelands Call ringing in the air to congratulate Ireland on its historic victory over the All Blacks!
The Chairman welcomed distinguished guests including Lee Thomas, Jim Momsen and Terry Goldacre representing Lady Fairfax, the new Irish Ambassador, Breandan O’Caoilli and his wife Carmel, Consul General Jane Connolly, Dr. Stanley Quek, Deputy Chairman Yvonne le Bas, Directors, Dr. Tom Moore, Ciaran Davis, Paul O’Brien, Frank Curran, Jane Cosgrove, Peter Ryan, Executive Director Teresa Keating, Alan Joyce of Qantas, Sir Ron Brierley, David Smith, Diageo; Peter Brennan and the Lansdowne Club, Mary Lee, Coolmore Australia, Clyde & Co, KMPG, our all-important Governors, Associates, Benefactors and of course our Young leaders.
The Chairman informed guests that here in Australia we turn 30 next year, a landmark not many charities reach and of that we are very proud. It’s because of the support of the many generous and caring people we are lucky enough to be surrounded by that has enabled us to hit this milestone. We are of course immensely proud to be part of the worldwide Ireland Funds, celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year and collectively we have raised over $540 million with generous support from 25,000 donors and we have supported 3,200 organisations in 12 countries. The Chairman then made a presentation Lee Thomas for Lady Mary Fairfax to thank Lady Fairfax and her family for all they do for The Australian Ireland Fund.
Guests were treated to a performance by INXS singer and Grammy nominated songwriter Ciaran Gribbin who was joined by lead guitarist Peter Northcote, fiddler Mark Oats and saxophonist Dan Fallon, they were captivating and left guests wanting, much, much more. After a fabulous lunch, the new Irish Ambassador His Excellency Breandan O’Caollai, addressed guests, endorsing and commending the Fund on its broader mandate including the wider community, a very important step indeed. The Ambassador said he continued to be delighted with the work the Fund is doing, having first hand experience of the Fund in Boston and New York also, he expressed his support of John and the board and encouraged all to participate broadly in the new vision and message.
Then we came to a very special part of lunch when Chairman John O’Neill AO was thanked by Deputy Chair, Yvonne le Bas on behalf of the Board and was presented with the Bird and Bell Award by Teresa Keating, and other members of the Board for his enormous contribution to the work of the Australian Ireland Fund. John has been on the Board for 16 years over two periods and 14 of them as Chairman. We are indeed indebted to John for the enormous contribution he has made to us.
Yvonne le Bas then introduced the work of Soar Ireland that many members of the Australian Ireland Fund Board and supporters had the privilege of visiting in Ireland in June. We were humbled to see at first hand just how effective this programme is in encouraging young people to be the best they can be. Yvonne asked for pledges of support for Soar to which many people generously gave.
We were so pleased to welcome back Edward Riley as our Auctioneer for the day, delivering a fun and energetic Auction. The items for our live auction sparked a lot of interest on including; the Emirates Australian Open Golf Package; the week in Tuscany for 10 people, an Audi 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,
including accommodation at The Merrion in Dublin, Sheen Falls in Kenmare, and a week’s car hire, courtesy of Driveaway Holidays. Thank you to Angela and Patrick Gallagher for generously purchasing this trip for the second time!
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. A thank you to all of the 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 down over Seven Shillings beach. The 2016 Sydney Garden Party was successful, both socially and financially, with over 560 guests attending and $216,000 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.
We look forward to celebrating our 30th anniversary with you all in 2017!