The Australia Day Foundation's Gala Dinner or 2017, held on 21 January, certainly lived up to its reputation as the leading Australia Day celebration in the UK with the Soho House's brilliantly talented Luke Rayment in the kitchen and the equally gifted Dani Im on the stage. This year we celebrated Australian music through the decades.
Australian music through the decades
In celebration of the legendary performers and songwriters who have helped shape Australia's popular music culture. From INXS and AC/DC to John Farnham and Paul Kelly to Kylie Minogue and Sia, 2017 was a celebration of these talented artists, many of whom have achieved international recognition through their uniquely Australian approach.
Our guest Australian chef Luke Rayment, the talented and passionate Executive Chef at one of London’s most exclusive members' club, Soho House, treated guests to a delicious four-course menu, staring quail and a sumptuous beef wellington. We also enjoyed the accompanying fine wines from Yalumba, Australia's oldest family-owned winery.
X Factor winner of 2013 and 2016 Eurovision Song Contest entry for Australia, Dami Im delighted our guests with her astonishing voice at the 2017 Gala dinner. Since her breakthrough on the popular talent show, Dami has topped the charts and achieved multi-platinum sales for self-titled debut album and hit singles ‘Alive’, ‘Super Love’ and ‘Gladiator’.
The Award Winners
Michael Lynagh AM
Australian of the Year in the UK
This year we honoured a sporting hero and true Australian legend whose legacy goes far beyond his achievements on the pitch. Michael Lynagh, one of the finest players in Rugby Union history, made his international debut for the Wallabies at age 20.
In an illustrious career, spanning over a decade, he played 72 Internationals and set a yet to be broken point-scoring record of 911. After retiring, Lynagh forged an impressive commercial and media career in the UK. However, in 2012, Lynagh suffered a stroke, the effects of which he still deals with today. The following year he ran the London Marathon with a team of colleagues, raising over £80,000 to set up the Stroke Association’s ‘Back to Work’ project and he continues to show his support and raise awareness for this cause. Lynagh was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1996, inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1999, received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and was welcomed into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Wallaby Hall of Fame in 2013.
Sir Michael Parkinson CBE
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK
The title of 2017 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK was awarded in the spirit of the Australia Day Foundation itself, which is to strengthen ties within the Australian community in the UK.
Sir Michael, a broadcaster, journalist and author, whose remarkable television career spans over five decades, has always been a strong promoter of Australia and its people and a frequent visitor over the years. This award was given in recognition of his outstanding achievements and distinguished career. Best known for his award-winning talk show Parkinson, Sir Michael interviewed many Australians including Kerry Packer, Barry Humphries, Paul Hogan and Kylie Minogue. He also recorded over 70 episodes of the show in Australia and over the years talked to most of the men and women shaping Australia’s political, cultural and sporting landscapes of their time.
Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK
The Young Australian Achiever of the Year award 2017 was given to Australian theatre star Suzie Mathers in recognition of her outstanding talent and her accomplishments so early in her career.
Born in Scotland and raised in Perth, Suzie Mathers is the Scottish Australian theatre actress best known for her starring roles as Glinda the Good Witch in the Australian, Asian and London productions of Wicked, and as Sophie in the 10th Anniversary Australian tour of Mamma Mia! the ABBA Musical. Mathers graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, in Music Theatre, from the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2007, and within two years had earned a nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2009 Sydney Theatre Awards.