Well, we certainly weren’t reserved at the Reserve bar last night for June’s Awesome Newcastle. Candidates and finalists cosied up on cushions and couches and caught up on the freshest and finest ideas around town.
We welcomed four guest board members this evening including Don Magin from Magin Consulting, Ty Brennock from Monica Clare Recruitment, Megan Durrant from The Village of Useful and General Manager of The Edwards, Zac Sholtz.
The close quarters, the dim lights and the cascading wine sculpture above us created a dynamic environment, ripe for the discussion of ideas. Our phenomenal finalists this month were Becky Kiil from Newcastle Afoot, Leisha Mongan from Bean Cycled, and Rebecca Murray from Flying Spanners.
Becky Kiil went first, telling us about her soon-to-be-launching business, Newcastle Afoot. Becky moved to Newcastle less than a year ago, hoping to get work as a tour guide in Newcastle. She quickly discovered that there aren’t many guided tours in Newcastle and decided to start her own walking tours, hence the name Newcastle Afoot. Launching in July, her business will offer four different relaxed, informative and socially aware tours to participants to give them a variety of local experiences. Guests will experience local scenery, historic sites and galleries and have the opportunity to meet local makers and business owners.
Next up we welcomed Leisha Mongan to tell us all about her and her brother’s initiative, a mushroom farm that’s also reducing waste in Newcastle. She told the audience a little known fact that only 1% of coffee produced actually ends up in your cup. Each week Bean Cycled diverts up to 900kg of coffee waste from landfills. First they use the old coffee to grow delicious oyster mushrooms, and then they give the “mushroom compost” to community gardens and schools for their vegetable gardens. Recently featured in The Newcastle Star, the two have completed their first batch of mushrooms and hope to sell them to local restaurants.
Rebecca Murray wrapped up the evening telling us all about her dreams to beautify Teralba. She and her husband run an art gallery here, and she is hoping to find the funds to paint a mural for a small school in the town. She has been painting murals for over 25 years, and she hopes to get the students involved in the designing and painting. She told us the school also has a small garden that needs work, and she would like to use the funds to work on this too.
Clearly everyone was impressed with the creativity of all our candidates, and the board began to debate what we later learned was, unquestionably, the closest call we’ve ever had. The finalists sat nearby and got to know each other, and at last a decision was reached. We asked guest board member Ty to officially splash the cash.
We are happy to announce that this month’s winner is Becky with her brand new business! Becky will be using the money for public liability insurance, signage and online booking systems. Keep an eye out for Becky around Newcastle this July as she shows off everything our city has to offer!
A big congratulations to all three of our finalists. These projects were diverse, exciting and the kind of Awesome Newcastle examples we want to see more of. As always, please remember that your application never expires, and we encourage all candidates to keep us up-to-date with your initiatives!