Even a big storm with unexpected hail couldn’t keep spirits down for October’s Awesome Newcastle! The huge claps of thunder were no match to the huge claps of applause for our latest round of finalists at The Edwards front bar on Thursday night.
Along with our loyal crew of board members, this round at Awesome Newcastle we welcomed guests and generous donors Alison Hough from Wine Selectors, CEO & Co-founder of Liftango, Kevin Orr, Amber Moncrieff of Hunter Plastic Surgery, Founder and owner of Sitest, Amir Antebi, The Village of Useful‘s Emma Levine and The Edwards Co-Owner, Chris Johnston.
With some bevies and addictive cheesy fries, we leaned in to learn about the latest Awesome Newcastle Finalists. This evening we had Jade Chislett from Just Like You Dolls, Riley McLean, writer of local play Do Your Parents Know You’re Straight, and Sara Jephcott with a new “Friday Flower Drop” business idea.
Twenty-three-year-old Jade spoke first and told us all about her Just Like You Dolls, and she also brought three examples along as demonstrations. Her five-year-old daughter Bella was born with hearing loss and has cochlear implants, and during Christmas 2016 Jade set out to create a doll for Bella that had toy implants. Her daughter loved it so much Jade realised this was something she wanted to share with other children who have disabilities. In March this year she launched a business that creates a variety of medical devices for dolls. Supported by her husband and her father in-law who design the devices, Just Like You Dolls allow customers to customise their medical devices as well as their doll type. She said she would use the money to purchase more stock and donate dolls to local children wards.
Next we welcomed 20-year-old emerging artist Riley. Riley manages two local theatre companies and is also a local drama tutor. He recently wrote the play Do Your Parents Know You’re Straight, and it was officially produced at the Civic Playhouse in April this year. Afterwards, many members of the audience wanted to see it go on tour. Riley wrote the play in support of the LGBTQ+ community to offer hope (especially to youth) and to change people’s minds. As well as LGBT issues, the play explores themes of suicide and mental health. He now plans to tour the show & spread the message to a bigger community. To learn more about the plans and fundraising for the upcoming tour, click here.
Last but not least Sara came to the front of the room to tell us about her dreams of starting a florist business. She’s delivered flowers to a few businesses already and was moved by how excited everyone gets when receiving flowers. She wants to start an affordable flower drop on Fridays for local businesses. Having a few employees from an office go in on the order would allow her to keep delivery costs down and also make people more inclined to buy flowers just because. She said most people are just as appreciative of a little $20 bunch of flowers as they are of a $100 dollar bouquet. She wants to spread the love with flowers for all! She’d use the money to pay the yearly subscription fee to the Newcastle flower markets so she can access flower stock at trade prices making the bunches more accessible for everyone.
We thanked our candidates for their well-crafted ideas, and then the board went on to deliberate.
After some cheerful chatter and a few more cheesy fries, we welcomed guest board member Amir to the front to give away the money. Amir was happy to deliver the message; October’s clear winner is Just Like You Doll’s Jade Chislett! Congratulations to Jade, we love what you’re doing and hope you are able to get these dolls to as many kids as possible.
We’ve only got one more Awesome Newcastle happening for this year, so get your applications in quick, and if you’ve already applied, remember applications never expire. Thanks to everyone who was involved last week, and if you’d like to stay up-to-date on Awesome Newcastle happenings, be sure to like our Facebook page and subscribe to our newsletter!