Last night the Criterion Hotel in Carrington hosted another glorious Awesome Newcastle featuring a fabulous line up of finalists and guest board members. We enjoyed some bevvies, we learned who was who, Alex made the “May the Fourth Be With You” joke, and we got down to business.
This month we loved having first time guest board member Mel Histon and Craig Browning of Got Your Back Sista and Harry Balding of Avetta. We welcomed returning guest board Brooke Stevenson and Louise Kipa from Persona Communications and Becky Kiil from Newcastle Afoot.
The lovely Teegan Diamond returned to volunteer and photograph the night for us as well, which you see right here in this blog post. Thank you Teegan!
This month our finalists were Jean Stewart of Freedom In Disasters, Marcus Wright of Big Apache and Stephen Meek of Newcastle Toy Run. (Steve was actually previously a finalist back in July of 2020!)
Jean went first. A foster carer, physiotherapist and yoga teacher, she’s excited about volunteering for Freedom in Disasters, a not-for-profit, currently run 100% by volunteers, to prevent human trafficking of those affected by disasters, and to use disaster response as a means to disrupt and free people from slavery. The organisation was started in Austria almost a year ago, and the director has since moved to Newcastle. Now they plan to start a local branch. Jean would use the money for start up costs associated with registering as a not-for-profit and charitable organisation based in Newcastle.
Marcus went next. He’s an established music promoter in Newcastle and also the publican at the Wickham Park Hotel. He told us he plans to use the money to have a big Blues and Roots Festival which would activate the local community. He’s tried to organise this event multiple times over the last two years, but it’s been sadly delayed because of Covid. However things are looking brighter for the spring of 2022, and he would use the money to pay local artists.
Steve went last. He’s the treasurer of the Newcastle Toy Run Bikers For Kids association and active in the motorcycle community. The purpose of the Toy Run is to provide gifts and support for disadvantaged families in the immediate Newcastle/Lake Macquarie and Hunter Valley area. They have raised over $400,000 in cash donations and toys in just the last seven years. During the tragic Store Fire in Wickham earlier this year, they lost toys and furniture which had a value of over $18,000. They’re currently running fundraisers to rebuild what they’ve lost. Steve would use the grant to replace of some of the equipment which would help them fundraise in the leadup to December.
We applauded all our finalists and then the board got down to business discussing and deliberating who should take home $1000 cold hard cash.
As always it was a hard call but everyone cast their votes. Then we invited Mel Histon to the stage to award the money. Mel passed the cash to Steve for Newcastle Toy Run!
Congratulations Steve! We are so sorry to hear about your loss in the fire, and we hope that this money can be bring a little bit of help to your organisation moving forward! Thank you again to all our finalists for your great presentations and ideas! Please remember applications never expire and we take new applications as well. If you have an Awesome Idea or you’d like to be a board member, please apply via this website. We’ll see you next time at Awesome Newcastle!