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Choose Life Event 2016
  • Posted Monday, 29 August 2016
  • -
  • In Events

Choose Life Event 2016

Bret Nixon of Nixon Build and Design, was present at a Master Builders committee meeting where the topic of the Kokoda Track Fundraising Challenge was discussed in support of MATES in Construction. MATES was established in 2008, with the sole focus of reducing the high level of suicide among Australian building and construction workers. The MATES program is based on the simple idea that "suicide is everyone’s business” and that if this industry is to improve the health and wellbeing of its workers then it cannot be left only to the mental health professionals, but rather everyone in the industry must play their part.


Bret enthusiastically volunteered to take up the challenge, however with so many worthy and necessary causes to support, the fundraising effort was always going to be a significant undertaking.


"I put together a small committee of like-minded people knowing that by working together we could optimise our efforts and achieve our collective purpose more effectively. There were discussions on events such as BBQ’s, raffles and trivia nights. However, the focus always came back to the two most important concepts, 1) awareness, and 2) the much-needed money required for MATES to operate effectively and continue their vital work. By applying these concepts as the driving force, we decided that a cocktail event would achieve the best results in both areas, and the ‘Choose Life’ initiative was born.


Initially, a promotional campaign would kick-start our required exposure, followed by speakers presenting their stories and information on the night. Once we had decided upon this strategy for the fundraising effort, each member used their personal skills and expertise in radio, press campaigns, licencing, insurance, food and beverage, decorating, audio-visual and sponsorship. We met weekly for regular progress reports, ensuring that MATES’ true purpose and philosophy remained central to each decision and continued to drive us forward.


There were several amazing contributors throughout this project including Stephen Jackson from MATES in Construction, Robyn Moore, a professional and inspirational public speaker and the voice of much-loved children’s character, Blinky Bill, as well as Joel Pilgrim, an exceptional mental health Occupational Therapist and the founder of Bondi’s ‘One Wave’ Initiative, a non-profit surfing community initiative tackling mental health awareness.


The entertainment included the high-energy five piece band ‘Steve and the Lion’, ‘Wing It’, a sensational solo cover artist, and Elise Teitzel, a talented acoustic soloist and folk singer from Townsville. Our premier act, King Social, an eclectic local group, raised the party to a new level using their unique musical fusion of rock, hip-hop, reggae, pop and indie.


Events such as this always require financing, and this project was an eye-opener in terms of how the expenses tally up to a significant figure. Nonetheless, the campaign to secure sponsors was well on its way with construction associated businesses such as builders, suppliers, contractors and other services all keen to get on board. The same amazing generosity was shown by other local businesses, who provided a fantastic range of auction items and give-aways to add to the night.


We established early that further sponsorship was vital and the best way to do this was by using the media. We met with the Townsville Bulletin’s CEO Lewis Ramsey, discussing the terrible statistics in relation to suicide within the construction industry. Lewis was very enthusiastic about the project right from the beginning, arranging a meeting with Ben English, Lydia Kellner and Trudy Truscott from the newspaper. Our discussions revealed that this topic was very close to many hearts, and Ben’s team developed a four-week promotional program including stories and advertisements to raise public awareness.


When Shane Jurgens from Southern Cross Austereo learned of the event, he immediately offered his assistance to highlight the cause and the crucial need for change. SCA developed a marketing program that included suicide awareness radio-reads in addition to publicity for Choose Life and the associated Kokoda Track Challenge. There were also interviews by Glen ‘Minty’ Mintern, and ’Chooky’ as a part of the campaign. The participation and coverage provided by SCA was nothing short of extraordinary.


A chance conversation with Lynsee Coleman, Media Sales Executive from Success Business Magazine brought us another step closer to our goal. Lynsee was confident she would gain support from the magazine Owner and Editor, Marissa Candy with further exposure, a follow-up editorial and a feature on the event in their next edition.


Brooke Fowler from Our Design developed the incredible artwork for the event with marketing materials for Save the Dates, invites, posters, flyers, programs, menus and banners.


Regan Anderson and Jason Solman of NQ Licenced Events were other examples of local passion and generosity. The event wouldn’t have been possible without their support, providing all resources for audio-visual, set-up, beverage services, staff and security. Regan, also owner of The Shamrock Hotel, donated generously with additional cash, prizes and auction items.


Finally, it was all coming together. With the help of our major sponsors Martin Locke Homes, Nixon Build and Design and other associate sponsors, the event was now a certainty.


The gates opened at 6.30pm and guests were welcomed by the folksy sounds of Elise Teitzel, with refreshments served under the Breezeway of the Quayside Terminal. 4TOFM’s Glen ‘Minty’ Mintern acted as MC for the evening, with Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill opening the night. ‘Wing It’ kicked off the entertainment, followed by a series of short presentations on the topic of suicide in the industry. As part of this segment, Stephen Jackson spoke briefly on how their association makes a difference, the Kokoda Walk fundraiser, and what this means to MATES.


Guests were further entertained by Steve and The Lion, while being served outstanding canapés by Michel’s Essentially Fresh Team. Joel Pilgrim spoke next, offering his experience and knowledge of the subject, followed by Robyn Moore, who passionately addressed the issues around suicide, particularly amongst young men.


A live auction by local auctioneer Damien Keyes added a charismatic touch to the night, as well as generous lucky door giveaways and raffle prizes. Minty continued to woo the crowd throughout the night, followed by the evening’s premier headlining act, North Queensland’s own King Social.


All in all, the night was a massive success, with the 200 guests raising over $21,000 for MATES. The most common topic of conversation after the event was about making the Choose Life cocktail night an annual event and continuing the momentum we achieved. There has been an overwhelming response from businesses and individuals to commit to sponsorship next year. With this in mind, we will shortly begin the planning stages of Choose Life 2017, and it’s fair to say that it can only be bigger and better.


Amongst the smiles and fun of this event the primary focus has always been promoting awareness for the prevention of suicide in construction as well as raising the much needed cash for MATES in Construction to continue their great work. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved; the sponsors and organisers, the local businesses which donated so generously and of course to our guests who purchased tickets. It has been an absolute pleasure to be involved in support of the MATES Kokoda Track Challenge”.