Friday, 29 April 2016

Sportscraft Mother's Day Lunch for Barnados

With summer gone and school holidays over I was just starting to settle back into 'normal' life (which is anything but exciting and is often quite depressing) when I got an email invite at the end of last week from Barnados, to attend a special Mother's Day lunch in Sydney.  Sportscraft has just become one of Barnados principal sponsors and to celebrate that and inspirational women, they were putting on a special lunch at the Sydney Opera House.

It was lucky that it fell on one of my days off work, so I very excitedly accepted the invitation to go.  I was sad to learn that there weren't any other finalists from last year going, as I was hoping we could have a mini reunion, but was looking forward to meeting the Australian Mother of the Year from 2014 as I was told she would be there.

I guess having a blog and social media presence is good in a lot of ways (not just being my therapy) and I'm happy that I can use it in a positive way to share the amazing work that Barnados and other organisations do.

I had an early flight so I set my alarm for 4:30 am.  Of course I couldn't sleep because I knew that I had to get up early, and I woke up at 4am and figured I may as well get up then rather than trying to get another half an hour sleep.

I had to have a quick stop over in Melbourne, and got into Sydney about 9:30am.  I had a couple of hours to fill in so I jumped on the train and decided to get off in the middle of the city.  Because we go to Sydney so often I wasn't worried at all about what to do, and knew just which train to jump on and where to get off.

This street performer was very clever.

I remember going to the Queen Victoria Building when I was young, so thought I would go and check it out again.

On the way back to the train to go to Circular Quay I went through the Westfield shopping centre which had a huge Sportscraft store in it. 

I had about an hour to fill in at Circular Quay before the lunch was on, and enjoyed just sitting in the sun, enjoying the view.

There were lots of tourists around and three young guys from Switzerland asked me if I would take a photo for them. 

I had to go inside to the information desk at the Opera House to find out where to go for lunch, and was sent back outside again and up some external stairs which led to the northern foyer of the Opera House.  The northern foyer is right at the front and faces out to the harbour and the bridge.

I wasn't sure how many people I would know there, but thought a couple of ladies from Barnados who spent time with us at the Mother of the Year Awards last year  may be there.  I actually wasn't even worried as I knew I was lucky to be there, and just hoped it was going to be a good afternoon.

When I walked in I saw one of the ladies from Barnados that I knew and we said hi and she reintroduced me to Debra Lawrence who is an actress (used to be Pippa on Home and Away!) and is an ambassador of Barnados. She was at the awards last year, so we had already met and she was so lovely and friendly and gave me a big hug and kiss.   We had a lovely chat and she told me how much she loves Tasmania and that she has been down here a lot. She told me she loves the Gorge and I told her that it's only five minutes from home and that we spend our whole summer swimming there.
She also said that she was very tempted to move down here when she was offered a job at the Uni here.

I was introduced to Gloria who was the national Mother of the Year for 2014 and her sister Carmen. They were so lovely and friendly and we straight away started chatting and sharing stories.  Her daughter Cass passed away a couple of years ago at the age of 18 from cancer. 

Everyone was asked to come inside and we were all offered drinks (champagne or sparkling water) and also raspberries. 

There were huge glass stands full of fresh flowers which were so beautiful. 

When I first walked in I saw Natarsha Belling who was also at the national Mother of  the Year awards last year.   A lady from Barnados introduced us again and also introduced me to Jacinta Tynan who is a news presenter and an author.  She has come on board this year as an ambassador for Barnados and was the host at the NSW state awards a couple of weeks ago. She was really lovely and asked me how I became the state mother of the year. I told her my story and Natarsha kept shaking her head saying she remembered my story and can't believe that I had been through so much.
Natalie Barr was the MC for the day. She started the day off by speaking about Barnados and the work that they do. She was even more beautiful in real life than she looks on the TV and spoke really well, and was very friendly.  After she spoke the new CEO of Barnados and the CEO of Sportscraft (as well as other fashion brands) gave short speeches about how important it is to support Barnados and about the work that Barnados do.

Sportscraft have started a campaign called the 'Raspberry Challenge'.  They will be donating up to $50,000 to Barnados and will give $5 for every 'raspberry' that is posted online with the hashtag #scraspberryforbarnados    Before we sat down to lunch they showed this video and asked everyone to get on board and post a 'raspberry' online. If you're on Facebook or Instagram you can join in - it's so easy to do and it's for a great cause so get on board and join in on the fun :) Just make sure you use the hashtag so it counts.

I wasn't really sure what to expect at the lunch, and thought that maybe it would be finger food and we would be standing around mingling while lunch was served, or I thought that maybe there would be different tables around the room and speeches going on while we ate, but there was a massive table set up with the most incredible flowers and setting I had ever seen. It looked like a very, very posh wedding.

I couldn't believe that I was standing IN the Opera House, about to sit down to eat lunch with this view in front of me!

We were told what section we were sitting in, and we were all oohing and aahing over our personalised serviettes.

I believe that Aria Restaurant did the food and it was an amazing menu of things that I had seen on cooking shows, but had never had myself.  I was sitting in between Gloria and Irene who works for Barnados.

While we were waiting for our entrees to come out I spotted James Mathison.  Jay loves him and I told the Irene from Barnados that I wanted to meet him, but didn't want to seem like a stalker. She was more than happy to take me over to meet him and he was so friendly and his partner was beautiful too and gave me a hug and kiss. She told him that I was the Tasmanian Mother of the Year and he was very excited and said 'this year!?' and I told him it was last year. He cracked me up and jokingly said 'so why are you here then!? It's all over! You've handed over the sash!'. It cracked me up and I agreed and said I couldn't believe that I was there when I had already handed the crown on. Irene then told him that I am an amazing ambassador for Barnados and am always one of the first to be posting about them, tagging them and spreading the word about what they do.  I said that I am more than happy to talk about Barnados because they do amazing work for children and families.

I told him that my eldest son loved him and he said 'let's get a photo then!' and I told him I would send it to him while he was at school and he would be very excited.

It was so fun sitting with Gloria and Carmen.  We had so much to talk about as even though our stories are different, we understood what each other had been through.  I was introduced to some ladies across the table as the Tasmanian Mother of the Year and one of them asked me if I foster children. I wish that was my story rather than the one I'm living. 

There were so many people there and I wanted to know why everyone was there.  There were a lot of celebrity ambassadors, TV chefs, magazine editors, TV presenters, models and I even spotted Jules Sebastian (Guy Sebastian's wife) right at the end.

It was such an amazing place, but it was SO hot. We kept saying we didn't want to complain though as we knew it was a once in a lifetime experience to be sitting there having lunch. 

Before the food came out I also got to say hi to Natalie and she was so lovely and friendly. 

The entree looked too pretty to eat! Carmen actually didn't eat hers and cracked us up as she kept complaining about it.  I wasn't even sure what half the stuff was that I was eating, but it was really yummy. 
Between courses Natalie Barr would speak and let us know about things that were going on during the afternoon.
To raise money for Barnados, Sportscraft have released the 'Naomi Watts Coat'. Naomi Watts is a Sportscraft brand ambassador and was one of the first ones to do the 'raspberry challenge'.  At the lunch they had 25 limited edition coats in the blonde tone up for silent auction. They are worth $799!

Some models came out to model them for us, before everyone was asked to place a bid in the silent auction.

They raised over $21,000 for Barnados through the auction and Carmen won one of them! 

Gloria and I were wondering how Carmen would go with the main course, but she liked it a lot more than entree :) It was very yummy but we weren't at all keen on the crisp kale.

Dessert was definitely our favourite and was a raspberry theme.   The 'raspberry glass' was amazing and it was really hard on the outside and when you cracked it, it was full of a raspberry mousse.  It was amazing food.

Before I left I got to chat to Debra Lawrence again and she was just so lovely. She's such a genuine, down to earth lady.

Carmen, Gloria and I left together and had to get a selfie before we said goodbye. It was such a beautiful afternoon and  I couldn't believe that I went there not really knowing anyone, but had such an amazing time.

Everyone was given a gift bag from Sportscraft as we were leaving and they had some beautiful flowers in them (I wish I took a photo!) which I knew I couldn't bring back into Tassie, so on the train back I offered them to a teenage girl who was sitting next to me. She was so surprised and excited about it and kept looking at her boyfriend and saying 'how nice is that!?'.

When I got to the airport I pulled the rest of the things out of the bag and was so excited to find this inside!  I felt very, very spoiled and lucky to be able to go along to such a lovely event.  I got home late last night, and couldn't believe the whirlwind of a day I had just had. 
I went into town the day after and very happily spent my voucher on a new pair of pants. I was showing Jay them and he cracked my up when he said 'oh so Sportscraft isn't a sports store then?!'

I'm so grateful to have some awesome experiences over the last year or so, as it has given us such a boost.  It's so hard to come back to reality after another amazing experience, and I keep thinking I need to plan something so we have something to look forward to, to keep us going. 


  1. Very, very nice! I admire your guts to try new things and meet new people.

  2. Not meaning to sound stupid or anything, but who IS James Mathison? Is he an Australian TV star or something? I've never heard of him...

    1. James works for Channel 10. He used to host Australian Idol and was then on The Project when it first started. He also had a morning show for a while and last season he was on Celebrity Apprentice and his chosen charity was Barnados.

  3. I LOVED Pippa growing up!!
    Always baking and nothing was ever a problem.

    She was the ultimate foster mum!!! ( running a large house AND. Caravan park!)

  4. What an exhilarating experience for you! I'm so glad all of the ladies were lovely. You must have been exhausted by the time you got home!


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