By Debra Forbes.
This year, instead of having a thank you event for the tutors alone, our fundraising sub-committee thought it might be more fun and inclusive if we (the committee of Nillumbik U3A) ran a fundraising event that would embrace as many of our members as possible. To that end, Joy Barham and Lou Empson developed the idea of a Christmas Breakup Party of barefoot bowls, BBQ dinner and music which would thank our tutors, offer a Christmas breakup party for all, and raise some much-needed funds, all at the same time.
The barefoot bowls (you could wear your socks if you wished) started at 5pm and was overseen by a number of the Eltham Bowling Club members who guided the newbies on the green around the rules and practises of lawn bowls.
As the bowling concluded, the guests ambled to the club rooms and found themselves amongst many friends already mingling in the affable atmosphere of other U3A members. We had around 100 happy and ready-for-fun-and-entertainment participants.
The musical entertainment was supplied by Blue Tango, a local jazz duo from Research. They did a terrific job of blending their music into the background so that we all could enjoy both conversation and music whilst reconnecting with many U3A friends not seen for a while.
Dinner was a BBQ feast of chicken sticks, meat patties and sausages with baked potatoes and freshly made salads, plus a large selection of homemade desserts. The evening was presented by our Acting President, Guy Palmer. Guy has a calm manner and wit which he used very nicely on the podium.
We couldn’t have a Nillumbik U3A if it wasn’t for our tutors; they are the reason we exist and the very essence of our Association. We are blessed with both the calibre and quantity that we have. Guy thanked them for all their wonderful work done throughout the year. He then presented gifts to each of them. The gifts were all wrapped beautifully, all different sizes, no names on them and no idea what they contained – so the tutors got to choose their favourite shape: rectangle ones, round ones or square ones.
Guy also thanked our amazing office staff volunteers, again without whom our U3A would not exist. They are the very backbone of our association. They too were given a choice of rectangle, round or square gifts.
Next were the volunteers who assisted Joy and Lou to make this event the success that it was. These treasures of our association include Daryl McStravick, Debra Forbes, Fidel Panzera, Frank Camera, Joan McStravick, Joy Barham, June Crichton, Jude Panzera, Lou Empson, Pat Wallace and Ros Camera.
Lastly came the immense raffle: Joy & Lou had managed to secure a huge number of donations from local traders so the raffle winners had a great variety of items to choose from (they were not wrapped, so it was first in best dressed). A big thank you to these donors, namely: Bolton Street Fruit Market, Bunnings, Coles, Colin’s Place, Dekoda Store, Eltham Bookshop, Eltham Hotel, Irresistible Jewellery & Accessories, John & June Crichton, Lou Empson, McDonald’s, Old Evropa, Pavilion Menswear, Pierross, Priceline Pharmacy, Prosciutto Bros. Craft Bar, Samarkand Gallery, Skaterz Roller Skate & Blade Rink, Stephens Meats, Thompsons Pharmacy, Tip Top Butchers, and Woolworths. We encourage everyone to support these businesses as they have supported us.
From the outside, it looked seamless and without fault. On the inside, however, I happen to know that there was mild panic when the vegetarian meal offering could not be found and a race to buy replacement veggie burgers was made. Also, the water to the dish washer was not working and great fear started to develop that we would have to hand wash all that crockery and cutlery into the wee hours of the morning. But to the rescue, our superman of the moment, Fidel Panzera, put on his cape, found the problem, and got the dishwasher going again, much to the relief of everyone in the kitchen.
The volunteers were just terrific pitching in and giving their all. But it is pictures that tell a thousand words, so let us look at some photos from the evening. Thank you to all our tutors, our Office staff, the volunteers who helped on the night and, finally, to everyone who came. It was a truly a terrific event.