The Gala Dinner 2010

The most creative and talented individuals and leaders from the Australian community here in the UK joined us on 23 January to celebrate 'Multicultural Australia'. World-renowned chef David Thompson wowed us with a vibrant Thai feast and we were thrilled by performances from Philip Quast, Kirby Hughes and Sam Harrison.

The Theme

Multicultural Australia

This year we welcomed guests onboard ‘SS Australia’ to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. From the country’s original inhabitants of 40,000 years to the migrants and their descendants who have arrived in Australia from all over the world since the first European settlement 1788, our greatest strength is our people.

The Chef

It is said that David Thompson, Australian Michelin star chef, international restaurateur, and food writer probably knows more about Thai cooking than any other ‘Westerner’. For the 2010 Gala Dinner Thompson certainly rose to the challenge, creating a stunning Thai menu enjoyed by our guests.

The Entertainment

This year’s audience was charmed by award-winning stage and screen star Philip Quast, best known for his performance as Javert in Les Miserables. Guests were also treated to brilliant performances from musical theatre favourites, Kirby Hughes and Sam Harrison.

The Award Winners

John Williams AO OBE

Australian of the Year in the UK

World-renowned classical guitarist John Williams was awarded the title of 2010 Australian of the Year in the UK in recognition of his talent, his distinguished career and the role that he has played as an ambassador of the modern classical guitar and repertoire.

Born in Melbourne in 1941, his family moved to the UK when he was eleven. First taught by his father, Williams was given his first guitar aged four and quickly showed signs of genius. At just 11 he was invited by Andreas Segovia to attend his summer schools in Italy and mere six years later, after more study at the Royal College of Music, Williams made his professional debut at Wigmore Hall. His great interest in contemporary music has led to wide-ranging musical collaborations, including with Japanese, Cuban and African composers. He has recorded everything from classical music through jazz to pop, and worked with an extensive list of other great musicians, including: Itzaac Perlman, Jacqueline du Pré, Daniel Barenboim, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andre Previn and Cleo Laine. Williams was awarded an OBE in 1980, made an officer of the Order of Australia in 1987, and presented with the Edison Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Sir Robert Wilson

Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK

This title of Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK 2010 was awarded to Sir Robert Wilson in recognition of his part in a number of major projects that have contributed significantly to Australia’s economic wealth and the extensive contribution he has made to Anglo-Australian business over almost four decades.

Sir Robert graduated with a BA from Sussex University and later completed a top management course at the Harvard Business School. This award is also a tribute to Sir Robert’s pioneering work on reform in the mining industry. He has campaigned for mining companies to establish a better financial track record and established the Global Mining Initiative which introduced more ethical approaches to labour and the environment. Under his stewardship, Rio Tinto worked to limit its greenhouse gases, encourage biodiversity, and was a founding signatory of the Australian Minerals Industry Code for Environmental Management. As well as being Chairman of the BG Group plc, a position he has held since 2004, Sir Robert is the Senior Independent Director of GlaxoSmithKline. He was the Chairman of The Economist from 2003 to 2009 and was appointed Knight Commander in the order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 2000 for services to British interests overseas.

Dr Ainsley Newson

Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK

The 2010 award for Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK went to scientist Dr Ainsley Newson, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Ethics at the University of Bristol, in recognition of her early career achievements as researcher and inspirational teacher and her contribution to the the Bioethics debate.

Dr Newson earned honours degrees in Science and Law and a PhD in Medical Ethics from the University of Melbourne before she moved to the UK in 2003. She then completed a three-year Research Fellowship in Ethics and Genetics at Imperial College London. Dr Newson has lived in the UK for seven years, and her work in Bioethics grapples with some of the most challenging ethical questions modern science raises. Questions around genetics, biotechnology and human reproduction, including the emerging technology of ‘synthetic biology’, which aims to design artificial biological components. Not just a brilliant researcher, Dr Newson is also an inspiring teacher. The University of Bristol has recognised this, awarding her a ‘Rising Star’ prize for teaching in 2007.