On Thursday the 5th of March 2015, Lady Mary Fairfax AC OBE generously opened her home, once again, to the Australian Ireland Fund. The beautiful autumn evening reception was hosted to say thank you to our incredible supporters and provide an update on the Fund and Ireland.
Treasurer Yvonne Le Bas welcomed guests on behalf of our Chairman and board members and her Co Host Ambassador Noel White, including special guests, Past Chairman Mr. Charles Curran AC and Mrs Curran, Dr. Stanley Quek – Chairman of the Singapore Ireland Fund. Michelle Penfold, of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, Consul General Jane Connolly. Yvonne also mentioned Mrs. Ruth Tarlo and thanked her for her support of a Scholarship of Law at Trinity College that Ruth is providing at Trinity College to honour her late husband Hyman Tarlo.
Yvonne told guests we had a busy year last year which saw us host 19 events including a dinner for the former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, a privilege indeed, to support Modern Irish Studies at UNSW, 8 Young Leader events, a group very important to us not only here in Australia but around the world in our 12 chapters to ensure the continuation of the great work of the Fund into the Future.
Yvonne highlighted that we made a grant round of $384,000 in the last financial year and over the last three years 96% of tax deductible donations received by the Fund have been allocated to our Charities including Barnardos Loughlinstown, Suas Educational Development to provide direct literacy support to 1,475 children aged 8 – 14 from disadvantaged communities in Westmeath. Junior Achievement Ireland which encourages entrepreneurship education, our grant this year assisting 685 students from Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo. Drumragh Integrated College Omagh in Northern Ireland, where still lonely 7% of children and educated in an integrated environment and The Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Yvonne was delighted to announce a further 5 year commitment to the scholarships in leading Australian schools that we support, together with the AIEF and she thanked Michelle Penfold who represented the AIEF.
Yvonne recognised our new majors sponsors Emirates who had just come on board, in particular Rob Gurney Divisional VP Australia & New Zealand and Tim Harrowell Regional General Manager NSW/ ACT, Chris Knaap of Porsche Parramatta, Valerie Ebert of The Star, Maura Dempsey, John Edmond of Clyde & Co and Anthony Travers of KPMG. Yvonne thanked fellow Governors, Charles Curran AC, Lady Fairfax AC OBE, Mary Lee, The O’Brien Family, Dr Stanley Quek, Ruth Tarlo, Rodney O’Neil, and Drs Ailbhe and Frank Cunningham who travelled from Brisbane to be with us. This incredible support is vital to the work of the Fund.
We were thrilled to have Colin Fassnidge, celebrity chef join us on the night also Damien Leith who won Australian Idol and his lovely wife Eileen and Ciaran Gribbin a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Northern Ireland who has experience of the work of the Fund.
The Treasurer then presented Lee Thomas with a bouquet of flowers who accepted on behalf of Lady Mary who is one of the Funds most generous donors.
H.E. Noel White, Ambassador of Ireland to Australia then spoke greeting guests with his usual charm providing his Ireland update with a cricket antidote illustrating how much progress he felt the country had made when supporters young and old now come out to support the Irish cricket team – a team representing all of Ireland.
The Ambassador thanked all guests present on behalf of the Government and people of Ireland for, not only their financial support, but also for their friendship and interest in Ireland and things Irish.
Louise Kelly spoke on behalf of the Sydney Young Leader Committee telling people why she is involved in the Fund and taking the opportunity to highlight the goals of the Young Leaders and appeal for support from guests to help spread awareness and interest.