Another Awesome Newcastle came and went last night at the Criterion in Carrington. It was windy, it was rainy, and things did not go exactly as planned, but here at Awesome Newcastle we are the masters of improvising!
Last night we were thrilled to bring in two permanent board members! Long-time custodian Emma Levine of Awabakal LTD is now back on the books with an encouraging smile on her face. After incredible generosity and dedication so far this year, Brooke Stevenson of Persona Communication is also now an official board member as well. Welcome ladies, we’re over the moon to have you here!
We brought in two guest board members last night as well, returning guest board member Simon McCarthy of the Newcastle Herald and first time guest board member Matthew Banks of Hunter Young Professionals.
We enjoyed some chats and drink in the blazing warmth of the Criterion’s beer garden, and then we got down to business.
Our three finalists last night were Natalie Meade of Newcastle Birth Movement, Katie Bleus and her business partner Emily of Betty Loves Books, and a surprise impromptu finalist from behind the Criterion bar, Hannah Muir, queen of roller skates and thinking on her feet!
Natalie went first. She told us about her passion project, Newcastle Birth Movement. For 25 years she has run free birth support and birth story circles in the Hunter. In 2019 she fundraised to open Newcastle Birth Movement in Hamilton, a two-room space run by women, for women and families. She has passionately poured plenty of her own money into the initiative, and she also sells second-hand maternity clothes to help fund the project. If she won, she would use the money to bring in experts to host free birth workshops for pregnant women in the community.
Katie and Emily went next. They told us about how just last week they opened a small independent bookshop at Newcastle Station after several successful months at the Home Grown Markets. The two friends started their idea at the beginning of the year, and it’s taken off. They highly curate their new and used book collection for customers, and they also sell small batches of homemade tea blends! They would use the money to help fund their amazing launch party.
Our final finalist was a very last minute addition due to our original finalist being unable to make it. After a quick conversation with Hannah on the bar, she agreed to pop in and pitch an idea she pulled off the top of her head! Hannah is a Carrington local and single mum in her 20s. She works multiple jobs and during lockdown she has found such joy in roller skating. She wants to hold some a free roller skating workshop in Carrington to show other locals how to do it. She had hardly 20 minutes to prepare, but she ran home and brought her light up blue roller skates back and rolled right into the beer garden to make her pitch. It was a first in Awesome Newcastle history and we’ll never forget it.
The judges had a difficult task on their hands but never-the-less they persevered, debating and discussing. At last the votes were cast, and we asked Matthew to award the $1000 cash. Matthew passed the money to Natalie!
Congratulations Natalie! We can’t wait to see how your birthing speakers go, and thank you to Hannah, Katie and Emily for your fantastic pitches as well.
Remember, applications never expire, so there’s a chance we might see you again for another Awesome Newcastle! Get to brainstorming your next big idea, and we’ll see you next month for another Awesome Newcastle!