DEAR MEMBERS AND FRIENDS,
On behalf of the B-AS Board, I would like to wish you all a very happy and safe festive season. After the turmoil of the last couple of years, it will be great to celebrate with family and friends without restriction. My wife, Jacqui, and I are heading off to Australia shortly to spend our Christmas Day with family on the beach in true Aussie style. I hope you have a wonderful time wherever you may be.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you at our Christmas Carol Service and festive drinks reception on 7 December at St Mary-le-Bow Church, Cheapside. We have a full house and a big thank you to the Rev George Bush and his team for all their help in what is always a highlight in our B-AS calendar.
Many of you already know that St Mary-le-Bow contains a memorial to Admiral Arthur Phillip who was born in its parish. On 24 January 2023, the Trustees of the Admiral Arthur Phillip Trust are hosting their annual commemoration service in the Church at 11.30am, followed by lunch in the Church crypt, and have extended an invitation to all B-AS supporters. The address will be given by Cesar Hernandez who helped restore the piano which accompanied the First Fleet. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book and for lunch payment details. Spaces for the lunch are strictly limited so early booking is advised.
We have lots of exciting events and activities planned for 2023. On that note, I am thrilled to announce that we are soon to embark on a fabulous new project - the much needed restoration and digitisation of our archives. Although the B-AS has just celebrated its 50th anniversary, the B-AS sprang from the Australia Club which was formed in the 1930s. We have some extraordinary original source materials in our office - from the transcripts of speeches delivered at Australia Club dinners by Prime Ministers and High Commissioners from both Australia and the UK, to original photos and related contemporaneous news articles. There is much work to be done and we look forward to reporting on this in due course - together with publishing each month our "Snippets from the Archives" in your monthly newsletters in 2023. We have a very generous sponsor for this project and there will be more information once all the details are agreed. I also had the good fortune recently to meet the CEO of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Paul Guerra, and very much enjoyed showing him one of the volumes of the Australia Club records from our archives during my meeting at the Victorian Agent General's office. Please scroll down for some photos.
As you know, I wrote to Prime Minister Sunak on behalf of the B-AS congratulating him on this appointment. A copy of his reply is below and again testament to the importance of the British-Australian relationship.
Congratulations to the winner of our B-AS November draw for tickets to see the incomparable Nick Hardcastle in his new one man show, "I'm Your Man". Nick brought the house down and it was wonderful to see many of you there supporting Nick and having a fabulous time. Jacqui and I also very much enjoyed seeing many of you at the wonderful Royal Flying Doctor Service Gala Dinner at the Hurlingham Club on 16 November and also at the 30th anniversary celebration of B-AS Charity Member, the Tait Memorial Trust, at Australia House. Congratulations to both the RFDS Friends in the UK and the Tait Memorial Trust for such superb events. Please join with me in thanking and congratulating our National Director, Louise Mulley, for her part in making the RFDS event a great success – Louise is a Trustee of the Royal Flying Doctor Service Friends in the UK.
I also saw many of you at the very special event on 22 November with former Australian Prime Minister, the Hon. John Howard, in conversation with the Hon. Alexander Downer at the Royal Over-Seas League on the challenges of modern governance. A priority ticket allocation was offered to B-AS Members by the International School for Government at King's College London. We were thrilled with the response from our Members - our ticket allocation went in under 8 minutes! Thank you to the Hon. Alexander Downer, Chair of King's International School for Government, for giving us this opportunity. A photo from this exceptional event is below.
At the very end of last month, I was also privileged to attend an event hosted by Acting High Commissioner, Lynette Wood, at Australia House to celebrate the launch of a brilliant collaboration between the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra. The CEOs of both orchestras spoke warmly of this venture and we were treated to a beautiful recital by a number of the musicians. At the other end of the spectrum, the following evening I attended the Rugby Australia Foundation function hosted by Executive Head Simon Davis. I often feel I don’t ”fit in” at these rugby events for reasons apparent from the photo below! Both events were superb.
Of course, there are many important Australian related events every week in the UK – governmental, cultural, sporting etc. Louise and I do try very hard to get to as many as we can, and we always look forward to seeing our Members and friends supporting this broad base of exciting Australia/UK initiatives.
I would like to thank you all for your support for the B-AS Board and our office team in 2022. It's been a superb year full of varied and interesting events and activities. To become a Member of the B-AS and support the work we do, please click here.
There are so many exciting things to come. Don't miss out! See you in 2023.
Damian J. Walsh