The 2019 Australia Day Foundation Gala Dinner was held auspiciously on 26 January itself. With a stunning menu designed by Neptunes' Brett Redman, and cabaret performance from award-winning soprano Ali McGregor, we welcomed some of the most creative and talented individuals and leaders from the Australian community here in the UK to celebrate our great Wallabies and Wallaroos ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup
Wallabies and Wallaroos
In honour of Australia’s long history of men’s and women’s Rugby and in anticipation of the Rugby World Cup, the theme for 2019 was Wallabies and Wallaroos. It was also a chance to celebrate our past World Cup successes, with Wallabies’ victories against England and France in the 1991 and 1999 finals and the Wallaroos reaching the semi-final in 2010.
Brett Redman, Australian chef behind Neptunes Bloomsbury, Elliot’s in Borough Market and the Victoria Park Pavilion, brought his personal flair and style to the delicately designed menu for 2019. Guests were treated to smoked eel and potato chowder and a heavenly Devon roast duck. And once again Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, provided the wines to accompany this outstanding meal.
Award-winning soprano, actress and cabaret artist Ali McGregor delighted us with her cabaret take on some classic Australian numbers. Since followed her passion for cabaret with the famous Opera Burlesque Ali has performed everywhere from The Famous Spiegeltent in Melbourne to Glastonbury and Carnegie Hall and is one of the most in-demand acts on the international festival circuit.
The Award Winners
Yvonne Kenny AM
Australian of the Year in the UK
World-renowned Sydney born soprano Yvonne Kenny received the top honour from Australia House in 2019 in recognition of her distinguished performing career and work here in London inspiring, teaching and mentoring the next generation of singers.
Kenny studied biochemistry at the University of Sydney and then music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and later La Scala in Milan. An international star of the world's opera and concert stages, since her 1975 breakthrough performance in the UK, Yvonne Kenny was made a Member of the Order of Australia for Services to Music in 1989 and in 1999 was conferred an honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Sydney. She is also Chair of the Australian Music Foundation UK, which supports young Australian musicians in their post-graduate studies overseas.
Phil Liggett MBE
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK
British cyclist and sports journalist and commentator Phil Liggett MBE was named 2019 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK. The award was given in recognition of all his career achievements, his coverage of cycling in the media, and for popularising the sport both here in the UK and Australia.
Liggett currently commentates on the Tour de France and bike races for ITV and NBC Sports, and has been previously associated with the all the Big Three American networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC. Liggett also commentated for London 2012 with Australian broadcaster Foxtel and has worked with Australia's SBS covering Australian events such as the Tour Down Under. Liggett has held the position of president of the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC), Britain's national cyclists' organisation. In 2005, Liggett was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to cycling and in 2009 he was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame.
Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK
Jessica Buck, a descendant of the Kamilaroi people, was awarded Young Australian Achiever of the Year in honour of her achievements in academia and work in the field of cancer and neuroscience so early in her career.
Jessica completed a Masters of Science in Neuroscience at Oxford University and is now undertaking a PhD in Oncology at Green Templeton College, Oxford. She also coxed for Oxford in the 2018 Cancer Research UK Boat Race. Jessica is an inspirational role model for other indigenous students and researchers, and her recognition on the global stage has helped to shift the paradigm about what is possible for Aboriginal Australians indigenous Torres Strait Islanders whatever their field of endeavour; mathematics, medicine, the arts and sciences.