Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea

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This year FOCUS was asked to come on board as a media partner for the Cancer Council and promote their two events, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea and Girls Night In. We readily agreed, and we’re very honoured to be involved. So to help get the word out about our local causes, we catch up with our two local ambassadors…

Nathan Tomkins.

Favourite tea drink? Camomile tea. After a long day at work, having a cuppa before bed always makes me sleep well.

What prompted you to become involved with ABMT?

After losing my grandmother and having my father diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to help any way I could to find a cure for this horrific disease.

Cancer is such an aggressive disease with a very high rate of death; a cure needs to be found fast.

You held an event at the Whalebone Wharf last year. Will you be hosting again this year?

Hosting the Biggest Morning Tea last year was a great experience. We were able to make it a wonderful success, raising a considerable amount of money for this great cause.

We were very fortunate to have our local community and businesses come on board, donating prizes and giveaways. The highlights would definitely be the mud crab races, which were won by a lovely lady, Mrs Jeanie Beckett, and the oyster shucking competition, by Whalebone’s very talented young chefs.

Unfortunately, we were unable to host this year’s event, due to major renovations at the restaurant.

What other events are you involved in fundraising wise?

As a local business, we try to help out with as many fundraisers as possible,

There are so many small foundations trying to help someone in need of a little help – whether helping with medications, travel expenses or mobility carts. If everyone would just chip in a little each year, it really would make a big difference.

What does it mean to you to be an Ambassador?

Being asked to represent Port Macquarie and surrounding areas as the ambassador was a great privilege to me personally and as a local business owner.

It will give me the opportunity to talk to others about their experiences and emotions dealings with this disease and hopefully to bring awareness to the younger generation.

How has cancer touched your family?

I never thought it would happen to someone I loved so much; I didn’t understand how one day my grandmother was fine and the next she was fighting for her life – which eventually took her from us.

When my father was diagnosed, I thought it was time to try and make a difference to help; this is when I got involved. I am one of the lucky ones. Due to fundraisers like the Biggest Morning Tea, science has been able to make some progress in fighting this disease. My father has been given the all clear and looks forward to spending a long retirement and being able to see his grandchildren grow into adults.

How can locals get involved with ABMT?

You can go online and donate or look for your local community Biggest Morning Tea event; every cent counts, just like every life, and it’s only a cuppa.

Thanks Nathan.


Leslie Williams MP

Favourite tea drink? Peppermint Tea.

 When did you first become involved with the Cancer Council and ABMT?

I have been involved with the Cancer Council for a number of years. A few years ago, I participated in a Cancer Council Volunteer Community Speaker training course, which trains volunteers to speak publicly on cancer related issues. The course, run locally by the Cancer Council, was an invaluable experience and certainly broadened my knowledge in this area.

As a nurse who worked for a number of years in the palliative care ward, I saw firsthand the need for additional support for people diagnosed with cancer, as well as their family members and friends. I have had the privilege to meet a number of our Palliative Care Volunteers, many of whom have experienced cancer themselves, who work both in the North Coast Cancer Institute and in the community.

I have attended many Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea events, and it is a unique initiative that reflects our ‘Aussie’ characteristic, bringing friends, neighbourhoods and communities together over a cup of tea to raise funds for this very worthwhile charity.

In March, along with my staff, family and friends, I participated in the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life, which is always lots of fun, and at the same time joined with hundreds from the Hastings to raise more than $100,000 for the Cancer Council.

You must get asked to help and endorse a number of charities. Why was it important to support this one?

I do get asked to be involved in many charities and community groups, and I lend my support wherever I can. However, like so many others, I understand the impact that cancer has on family, friends and the wider community.

Every 12 minutes someone in Australia dies from cancer, but I believe it is going to take a whole of community approach to lower this statistic – as does the Cancer Council, which is reflected in their message “together we can beat cancer”. As well as being an ambassador for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, I am privileged to also be a patron of the Hastings Cancer Trust and am keen to do whatever I can locally to help people with cancer and raise money for cancer research.

What is your role as an Ambassador?

I try and take every available opportunity to fly the flag for the Cancer Council and help where possible through the media to raise awareness in the community about cancer, about the importance of being sun smart and eating healthily. As a Member of Parliament, I will be strongly supporting the Government’s proposed legislation, which aims to ban smoking in public places, which will be debated in the months ahead.

What does it mean to you personally to be an Ambassador?

I feel very honoured to have been asked to be an Ambassador, and I take the role very seriously. I am looking forward to leading the way by example and hosting my own morning tea in May … The Cancer Council gives us all a very clear direction for what needs to be achieved – “our vision will be realised when lives are not cut short by cancer nor their quality of life diminished”.

How has cancer touched your family?

My great grandmother had breast cancer and Don’s (my husband) father also died very suddenly from cancer without being able to share with us our wedding day or his beautiful grandchildren.

My experience in the palliative care ward left me with some very humbling and touching memories and made me realise the important role so many people play in supporting those in our community that have been impacted by cancer.

How can more locals help raise awareness for the Cancer Council?

Sign up to host or attend one of the many Australia’s Biggest Morning Teas this month, or just go to the Cancer Council website to find more details about local events and initiatives you can support.

Thanks Leslie.

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