I was invited to participate as a 'star' in the CBCA NSW Inc. Northern Sydney Sub-branch's annual
Lunch with the Stars!
I didn't realise how lucky I was until it all unfolded yesterday.
For this extraordinary event to happen, it took a combination of the following things:
Belinda Murrell - event founder, organiser, and key speaker
Wendy Fitzgerald, president of the Northern Sydney Sub-branch and her sub-branch team
The Grand Hall of the International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS)
A stunning day in Manly
22 authors and illustrators
23 tables of children
200+ children, teachers, and librarians and
5 Room to Read ambassadors and Zac the Yak
Tables dotted the room with decorations just waiting for the children to surround them.
Event booklets were placed everywhere so children could study their favourite
participating authors and illustrators and learn about some new ones.
I had the most amazing honour of sharing my table with
children from Stewart House.
From their website:
Every year 1,800 public school children attend our safe haven next to Curl Curl beach at no cost to their parents or carers. During a 12 day stay they are provided with dental, optical, hearing and medical screening and treatment.
Children participate in educational programs and excursions designed to develop their social and emotional skills, build self-esteem and improve their overall well-being.
This experience provides children with a much needed break from their current circumstance. Our children are inspired to see beyond the present and to have real hope and positive aspirations for their future.
Children in the care of Stewart House attend a specific purpose school onsite for 8 days of their 12-day stay. The NSW Department of Education and Communities provides infrastructure and staffing support for this school.
These children were also gifted a new book of their choice from the Northern Sydney Sub-branch.
Once the buzzing room settled, Belinda Murrell spoke of her life, family
and writing career. She was very animated, interesting and inspiring.
Then Room to Read ambassadors Belinda Murrell, Jacqueline Harvey, Oliver Phommavanh, Kate Forsyth, and Susanne Gervay promoted the Room to Read project with some help from Zac the Yak!
Then illustrator, Andrew Cranna, creator of 'The Bloodhound Boys', sent the room
in a spin with crazy illustration challenges. The kids had a blast doing these.
Lunch was served soon after. We were very hungry after so much fun.
Following lunch, the children made a mad scramble to the book shop and book creators for autographs. I've never signed my name so many times in such a short amount of time.
I sure felt like a 'star'!
A few familiar book friends made an appearance as well.
I would love to have the same travelling schedule as these three ladies!
What a privilege it was to share my new yet-to-be-released book, Dandelions (one month to go!),
writing journey and writing tips with such beautiful children at this truly grand event.
It will go down as a very memorable one for me.
I find it hard to describe how I felt with all these clever children in such a grand building
and in such a special location. I would definitely jump at the opportunity to do it all again
- including the 4:45am get-up and journey to and from Newcastle!
Congratulations to the organising team from the CBCA Northern Sydney sub-branch.
It always takes a team of people to make an event this size successful.
I hope we can make the CBCA Newcastle 'Lunch with the Stars' event in November just as amazing.