This year’s Gala Ball was another outstanding success, with an inspiring guest speaker, wonderful entertainment and a spectacular venue.
With its unique blend of historic beauty and contemporary elegance the Plaza Ballroom is amazing. And when the curtains opened to reveal the sparkling candelabras it was breathtaking. Once guests were seated, MC Michael Falzon entered from the back of the room singing a Robbie Williams classic – he certainly did entertain us!
The Pommery Bar was open for business tempting guests to purchase a bottle of champagne for the table. Guests were also invited to purchase a bottle of wine from the ‘wine drop’ for the chance to win a bottle of Grange. Simon and his team from Signed and Framed offered an array of auction items alongside those donated by our generous sponsors, and there were four fabulous raffle prizes to be won.
Guest speaker Associate Professor Chris Kimber, Head of Paediatric Surgery at Monash Children’s Hospital began by acknowledging our guests’ presence as a sign of their commitment to social justice. He highlighted the role of all of us to improve access to safe surgical care for the children in our local region before presenting some sobering World Health Organisation statistics.
30% of the disease load in the world requires surgical care
5 billion people – 2/3 of the world’s population – are without safe access to surgery and anaesthesia
the highest proportion is in our region
Prof Kimber praised Children First’s unique role in facilitating difficult cases and returning children home safe and happy. He went on to describe the successful surgical outcomes of Hala, Magdaline and Choity, three children with complex conditions who were referred to him by Children First. Chris told us that his personal humanitarian journey began when he was ten years old, through the example of his social worker father. We are indeed fortunate to work with so many exceptional surgeons such as Professor Kimber.
Pauline Macleod, the recipient of Children First’s 2016 Humanitarian Award, reported on her journey to PNG with Children First program partner No Roads-Health where she delivered physiotherapy sessions. She also completed clinical paediatric pilates and yogo courses which are proving to be beneficial to the children undergoing physiotherapy following surgery.
Before presenting the 2017 Award, Chairman Roger Langley paid tribute to our former colleague Pat Weldon who passed away in August. He announced that the award will now be named The Pat Weldon Humanitarian Award in Pat’s memory and invited Clinical Nurse Consultant Loreto Pinnuck from Monash Children’s Hospital to accept the award.
Photographer, videographer and friend of Children Fist Teagan Glenane joined Michael on stage to introduce the video she produced for the Gala entitled Happy, Healthy, Hopeful. Teagan traveled to Timor Leste in July to catch up with four children who have been helped by Children First. Tina, Angela and Margarita and their families and friends had welcomed her with great excitement. And she was overjoyed when she tracked down Martinho and his mother, whose story she recorded back in 2011.
At the completion of the live auction, auctioneer extraordinaire John Shore from Ray White Chelsea invited pledges towards a child’s treatment and care. Our guests’ generous response was incredible, breaking John’s own ‘world record for auctioning nothing’. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who gave so generously, and to John for his passion and enthusiasm.
Trophimus, Daniel, Innocent and Sadia attended and looked splendid thanks to the Retreat staff and volunteers who helped them find ‘style on an op-shop budget’. They had a ball, and when Dan Hamill and his band hit the stage, the kids hit the dance floor and even joined the band on stage!
Thanks to the wonderful team from Priceline who volunteered their support once again, and the A-team at the Pommery Bar – Connor, Kelsey and Savannah. Thanks also to Snappy Prints for capturing the fun, glamour and excitement for us to share.