The Gala Dinner 2021

In the midst of a global pandemic, the 2021 Gala Dinner was streamed live from Australia House to the comfort and safety of our guest’s living rooms. Our host, Bec Hill, was joined by West End sensation Daniel Koek, wine expert Matthew Jukes and special guests including Olivia Newton-John, Jason Donovan, Yvonne Kenny, Phil Liggett, Barry Humphries, John Torode and Lisa Faulkner.

The Host

Bec Hill

The fantastic Bec Hill stepped in as the Australia Day LIVE compere and brought warmth and humour to the stage. Bec Hill is one of Australia’s top comedians, she incorporates arts and crafts into her stand-up routines in something she calls paper-puppetry.

The Sommelier

Matthew Jukes

Wine writer Matthew Jukes hosted a live wine-tasting, exploring Yalumba The Signature and Yalumba Y series Viognier. For those doing dry January, he introduced a new category of drink; his very own non-alcoholic JUKES CORDIALITIES.

The Entertainment

Daniel Koek is one of the youngest men to play the title role of Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Misérables. On January 23rd 2021, he performed his West End Sessions LIVE for the virtual gala where audiences were treated to a unique mix of musical theatre songs.

The Award Winners

Philip Aiken AM

Australian of the Year in the UK

Philip Aiken spent 26 years with BOC in UK and Australia first coming to UK in 1973 and then back in 1992. He then returned to the UK in 2001 as Group President Energy of BHP Petroleum and since that time has played a pivotal role in Australia’s community in the UK as Chairman of Australian Business (now the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce) for 7 years and Chairman of the Australia Day Foundation for 13 years. He played a key role in Australian UK business summits: G’Day UK and Australialive.

It is however in business that Philip most made his mark, serving on the Boards of 6 FTSE companies including three chairmanships. He has also maintained his Australian business links with his Directorship of Newcrest Mining, Australia’s number one gold miner and also spent some time as an Advisor to Macquarie Eu-rope. In recognition of his business efforts he was awarded the UK’s Non Executive Director of the Year in 2013 and has also been appointed a member of the Order of Australia.

The Right Honourable Liz Truss

Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK

After working as economist, management accountant and think-tank director, she was first elected an MP in 2010. As a back-bencher she campaigned for major policy reforms, including co-authoring the influential book Britannia Unchained. This proposed economic reform and a new global role for the UK, drawing on learnings from the business practices of countries including Canada, Singapore and Australia. She was briefly a junior Education Minister, before becoming the youngest ever Conservative female cabinet Minister in 2014.

In 2016 she was appointed Secretary of State for Justice and also the first ever female Lord Chancellor. After being re-elected in 2017, she became Chief secretary to the Treasury, before being ap-pointed President of the Board of Trade and International Trade Secretary in 2019 by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. She is also the Minister for Women and Equalities. In her trade role, Liz Truss has been integral to the negotiations for a new UK-Australia free trade deal following the UK’s exit from the European Union. This deal is expected to be concluded early in 2021 is receiving this award for her efforts to spearhead free trade and greater co-operation between our two countries.

Sam Kerr

Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK

Samantha Kerr is the all-time leading scorer in both the National Women's Soccer League in the United States and the Australian W-League. She began her career for her hometown Perth Glory and subsequently led them to the W-League Final in 2017 and 2019. She was the league’s top scorer for three years in a row. Kerr was awarded the 2017 Julie Dolan Medal as the best player in Australia and is a four-time recipient of the Australian PFA's Women's Footballer of the Year Award.

She is the only female Australian footballer to be named to the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, having been nominated in 2018 and 2019. She was also named International Player of the Year by the Football Media Association (FMA) in 2013 and 2014 and was awarded the 2018 Young Australian of the Year by the National Australia Day Council. She has scored 42 goals in 88 games for the Australian national team, represented her country at three Women’s Asian Cups, two Summer Olympics and three FIFA Women’s World Cups and was made captain of the Matildas in 2019. In the same year, she became the first Australian player — male or female — to score a hat trick at a World Cup tournament.

Rupert Murdoch

Lifetime Achiever

Rupert Murdoch is a true Australian pioneer who has transformed the world's media landscape. He first came here to the UK, to study at Oxford University. There he had his first media management role with Oxford Student Publications which published the University newspaper, Cherwell. At the age of 21, Rupert Murdoch inherited a chain of Australian newspapers following the death of his father in 1952. Fifteen years after taking over the family business and following a series of acquisitions, Murdoch had amassed a portfolio of newspapers worth more than $50million.

Today, Murdoch is one of the most influential people in the media industry, with business interests that span television broadcasting and entertainment content to newspapers and book publishing. The two empires that he built over the last six decades – News Corp and Fox Corporation – own well-established media properties that operate in five continents including News of the World, The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.