A cool evening at the Criterion was a great way to start off Awesome Newcastle March last night. We drank, gabbed, caught up and got down to the business of giving away $1000 no-strings-attached cash.
Along with our stellar regulars, we greeted five guest board members this evening. It was great to see Amber Moncrieff from Hunter Plastic Surgery again, as well as Grahem Batten from Newcastle Permanent and Anna Lundmark from Hunter Water. Fabulous first time board members included James Wilcox from Liftango, and we welcomed Kath Teagle from Mayfield Medical Connection who was an Awesome Newcastle winner last year. We love it when that happens!
Our finalists this evening were Eliza Taylor from local women’s platform HerCastle, James Chapman from theatre festival Play Date, and Lyssa Breeze from Yoga 4 All Foundation.
Eliza kicked off the evening. She’s a Novocastrian who’s passionate about community. She told us about her new successful initiative, HerCastle. Just starting two months ago, HerCastle is a celebration of women and the amazing things that they’re doing. It is a safe platform for them to connect; it was built after the realisation that there are so many women in Newcastle (and on a national scale) doing amazing things. She wanted to create a platform to bring together women from all walks of life. HerCastle has already launched two International Women’s Day events which are selling out! She’d use the money to build the brand and have more events which collaborate with local businesses. She wants to have sessions on wellness, self defense, running a business and more.
Next up we welcomed James. James is no stranger to Awesome Newcastle, in fact he was one of our earliest winners back in 2015, and the Awesome money helped launch his company, Knock and Run Theatre. This time James told us about his upcoming short play festival “Play Date”. He’s engaged with dozens of local writers, directors, dancers, performers and actors to create a community event that celebrates the quirky and unique voices from all over Newcastle. Play Date is on May 9th, and he would use the money to help make the event run more smoothly and pay the performers, directors and writers after the play is over.
Our final finalist was Lyssa. Lyssa is the owner of Yoga 4 All, and she told us the bittersweet story of how her social enterprise The Y4A Foundation formed in memory of a student, Brigette Nilsen. Brigette was killed in a tragic cycling accident on King Street in March 2019. Her lively spirit and honest way of life will continue to live through Lyssa’s vision: to make Yoga & Meditation accessible to all. The foundation will improve human connection in communities worldwide through making yoga and other healing modalities accessible to all walks of life. The Y4A foundation will collaborate with local organisations to custom design programs to support health in the community. She would use the money to design, test and refine a digital program that will rebuild community connections.
We applauded all our finalists and then sent the board off to the challenging task of discussing and voting.
The votes were cast, the count was close so we called Kath to the front to award Eliza the money!