The Gala Dinner 2008

The UK’s leading Australia Day Celebration took place at Australia House on 19 January, bringing together the Australian business community to celebrate ‘Flying Down Under’. Petersham Nurseries’ Skye Gyngell created the menu for us this year and we were entertained by young Australian stars of London’s West End, Mark Dickinson, Natalie O’Donnell and Craig Schneider.

The Theme

Flying Down Under

This year we celebrate 80 years of The Royal Flying Doctor Service, a unique icon of Australian culture, and the 60th anniversary of the Qantas Kangaroo Hop from the UK to Australia. The first RFDS flight was made in 1927 using an aircraft hired from the fledgeling Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service, or Qantas as it is better known today.

The Chef

Skye Gyngell is an award-winning food writer and head chef at Petersham Nurseries. This year she created a fabulous menu for our guests featuring Dorset scallops and Australian loin of lamb, supplied by Meat & Livestock Australia. The delicious accompanying wines were from Australia’s famous Wynns Coonawarra Estate.

The Entertainment

This year we were entertained by three very talented young Australians currently making their mark in London’s West End with a medley of iconic songs associated with Australia and Australians. We were also delighted to welcome to our stage to sing the Australian National Anthem gifted singer Nina Ferro.

The Award Winners

Michael Hintze

Australian of the Year in the UK

Michael Hintze was named 2008 Australian of the Year in the UK in recognition of his extraordinary global business success and philanthropy. He is an inspirational role model for the Australian and British communities.

Hintze holds a BSc in Physics and Pure Mathematics and a BEng in Electrical Engineering both from the University of Sydney. He started his career in the Australian Army, in the Royal Australian Electrical Marine Engineers, before moving to the US to embark upon a career in finance. He then moved to London with Credit Suisse First Boston before becoming Head of Equity Trading at Goldman Sachs. In 1999 he launched his own hedge fund company, CQS. He is a trustee of the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for the Built Environment. Hintze has significant and wide-ranging philanthropic interests, establishing the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation with his wife Dorothy in 2004. The fund has helped to finance two galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum, established the chair of International Security at the University of Sydney and provided vital funding to the Old Vic Theatre in London. In 2005 Pope Benedict XVI made Hintze a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory after he contributed to the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel.

The Rt Hon. the Lord Carrington KG GCMG CH MC

Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK

Since serving as High Commissioner Lord Carrington has actively maintained his affection for Australia and together with his extraordinary achievements in public life, the Australia Day Foundation considered him a worthy recipient of the 2008 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award.

The Rt Hon the Lord Carrington was the British High Commissioner to Australia from 1956-59. His father was born in Australia and his Great Uncle was Governor of New South Wales from 1885-1890. Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, Lord Carrington succeeded his father as the 6th Lord Carrington in 1938. Lord Carrington fought with the Grenadier Guards in the Second World War and in 1945 was awarded the Military Cross. He has led a distinguished political career, serving under six Conservative Prime Ministers before finishing his cabinet career as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under Margaret Thatcher. In 1958 he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) for his services to Australia. He is the President of the Britain Australia society and Chairman of the Australian Music Foundation.

Chloe Chick

Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK

Inspirational leader Chloe Chick was awarded Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK 2008 in recognition of her extraordinary vision and total commitment to making a difference to many lives in Africa.

On Australia Day in 2007, Chloe was part of an all-women climbing team which successfully scaled the three largest peaks in Africa over three weeks raising AUD$370,000 for Africa’s three peak issues: environment, health and education. Chloe was inspired to found the ‘3Peaks3Weeks’ Challenge during a visit to Africa in 2004 when she decided to raise money to support and encourage not-for-profit organisations carrying out invaluable work in African communities. Together with ten women, eight Australians and two Americans, she trained for two years to climb Mt Kenya, Mt Meru and Mt Kilimanjaro - the first group of women to climb Africa’s highest peaks in just three weeks. It was an amazing achievement which is set to be repeated in 2009 by another group of women using the framework that Chloe and her team worked so hard to put in place. This award was presented by the Australian High Commissioner to the UK, The Hon Richard Alston, at the Australia Day Party held in the Grosvenor House Hotel, on 26 January.