April’s Awesome Newcastle went off without a hitch last night at the Criterion, a cheerful catchup before the Easter holiday. It was a special evening as we welcomed Lauren Devine on as a permanent board member! Lauren’s been a guest member for Awesome Newcastle many times, and we are stoked to have her on full time. Welcome Lauren!
We had several first-time guest board members including Becca Stern of Mustard Made, Kath Bicknell of SBS and Claire Wheeler of Kid Biz Academy. (This February Claire attended Awesome as finalist and won!)
We chatted and mingled and then the pitches began. We had three wonderful finalists, Ethan Andrews of UNSA Club‘s World Cub, Daniel Marshall of Curious About Science, Mikhala Jeans of I Live Here Newcastle‘ Children’s Picture Book.
(Ethan has attended Awesome Newcastle previously as a finalist AND as a board member. It is always lovely to see him here, regardless of which hat he’s wearing.)
Ethan went first. He works for The University of Newcastle Students’ Association (UNSA) a not-for-profit organisation that exists separately to the Uni. They organise free student events and advocate for students. On May 19, UNSA will celebrate the Clubs World Cup, a one-day cultural festival. The centrepiece will be an open age five-a-side mixed gender football tournament featuring students, their families and UNSA’s cultural clubs. It’s a way to use sport as a gateway to cultural sharing, creating a more welcoming, culturally aware and connected campus. The $1000 would go towards paying the football tournament referees and purchasing film rights to screen an international film that evening.
Daniel went next. Originally from the UK, he was a writer and illustrator who had a non-traditional midlife crisis where he discovered a love of science. He created Curious About Science, a website aimed at any kid who has an interest in science. It’s an illustrated look at the wonders of the universe and covers topics such as space, earth, chemistry, physics, maths, animals, biology and food. It also has sections where the kids are encouraged to conduct their own experiments. He continues to build the website, and he would use the money to pay for the hosting costs and promote the website ahead of the launch later in the year.
Last but not least was Mikhala, a primary school teacher who recently moved to Newcastle from Melbourne and was inspired after exploring the city with her kids. She’s just written a 22 page children’s picture book titled I Live Here – Newcastle. It’s the story of a little boy who moved to Newcastle with his family and visits iconic landmarks and places of the city. Through simple rhyme and eye-catching illustrations, the story shows the boy fall in love with the city. She researched the history of Newcastle and included dual names for locations to bring the Awabakal words into everyday language. She hired an illustrator for the images and a graphic designer to format. She would use the grant to pay for the printing, and this way she could supply free copies to local schools and libraries.
The judges as always had a challenging decision. They took their time discussing and at last cast their votes.
We invited Becca to the stage to award the money, and she passed the sack of cash along to Mikhala. Congratulations Mikhala, we can’t wait to see your book around town, inspiring others to explore this beautiful city we live in!
We wish the best to our other lovely finalists! Remember, applications never expire, so there’s a chance we might get you back again soon for another Awesome Newcastle. Thanks again to all the lovely wonderful people involved. We love you and good night!