After several months of uncertainty, Awesome Newcastle was back at The Criterion last night ready to rock and roll! As is tradition with the last Awesome of the year, we brought back three fantastic finalists from 2020 to give them another shot at winning some cold hard cash.
We had six guest board members last night to go with our wonderful regulars. Kath and Chris Teagle of Mayfield Medical Connection were previous Awesome Newcastle winners and board members. David Sivyer of Feedback Organic is a previous Awesome Newcastle winner and first time guest board member. Ethan Andrews is a previous Awesome Newcastle finalist and returning guest board member. Accountant Marty Spiers and author Damon Mcdonald both joined us again as guest board members. What a crew!
This month we welcomed back three returning finalists from earlier this year. We had Kerryn Tippet from After Party Funerals, Lars Steffans and his eco-friendly prawn trawler and Mel O’Dell with her Skate Mate idea. All three of these finalists previously only pitched via video, so it was exciting to have them in the room with us, chatting in person!
Kerryn went first. She told us about how her three-year-old daughter sadly passed away in 2014. When she planned her funeral, she wanted to do it in a way that was fun and colourful, finding happiness in the memories. After taking time to grieve, she’s been inspired to start a business which plans funerals for people in the same way that wedding planners plan weddings. Kerryn works with grieving families, sourcing quotes from funeral homes, listening to their ideas of how they want to say their goodbyes and making them a reality. She imagines funerals at the pub, or a bowling alley or on the beach with everyone having a surf! She’d use the $1000 for marketing.
Next up marine-entrepreneur Lars spoke told us about his passion for the environment, the ocean and fresh local-caught seafood. His dream is to convert his 63-year-old commercial timber prawn-trawler with home port in Newcastle into Australia’s most sustainable fishing vessel. His focus at the moment is to reduce emissions by fueling the boat with used-cooking oil collected from nearby local cafes and restaurants. He told us he can save 200 litres of diesel and around 20 litres of LPG every single night of fishing. If Lars won the money, he would build a used-cooking oil filtration system and purchase engine-parts that enable the boat’s engine to operate on the used cooking oil.
And our final finalist of the evening was Mel O’Dell. This was Mel’s third time this year pitching for Awesome Newcastle, what a trooper! Mel is a local artist and while the pandemic has been tough on her she’s discovered roller skating as a fantastic way to cope and be part of a local community. She wants to bring that joy to others. She created a supportive program called “Skate Mate”. Soon people will be able to book in free sessions with her, and she’ll supply good quality roller skates. At the moment there’s a worldwide shortage of roller skates, and Mel has used her own money to purchase the skates. She would use the Awesome money to get safety equipment to go with.
The judges knew they had a hard choice to make as they discussed and debated. Everyone cast votes and we invited Dave to the front to deliver the money to the winner. Dave passed the sack of cash on to Kerryn!
Congratulations Kerryn, we wish you the best of luck with your business and reshaping the way the world does death!
Thank you to all the people who have been involved in Awesome Newcastle this year. It’s been a strange one, and we’re very proud of for making it through. The next Awesome Newcastle will be in February 2021! Keep dreaming up awesome ideas and we’ll see ya on the flip side!