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Spring into Spring Lunch

19th September 2021, Online, Via Zoom

Due to the uncertainty because of the changing COVID-19 restrictions, we have decided we will bring the Spring Lunch to you. All the wonderful things you have come to expect from a Children First Foundation event but in the comfort of your home. 

We’ll bring lunch to you via a gourmet 2-course lunch hamper from acclaimed French chef Romu Oudeyer, including a piccolo of Champagne to start the party.*

  • Hosted by: Marianne Van Dorslar –Television, Radio and Media Personality
  • Guest Speaker: Associate Professor Ton Tran, MBBS, FRACS (Orth) – Specialist Orthopaedic Surgeon 
  • Entertainment: Josh Batten – Singer, Songwriter

* Hamper pick-ups will be on 18 September from a range of Melbourne and Mornington hubs to suit you – hub locations will be added to based on ticket sale locations. ​Current hub locations can be found here. Unfortunately, we cannot provide hampers interstate or to regional Victoria. 

Drawn on 11 February 2021, 5.00pm AEST

Give a little extra love this Valentine’s Day and support our ultimate Valentine’s Day raffle. Thanks to some wonderful partners we have amazing prizes on offer:

Prize 1 – An 18ct white gold and diamond “Circle of Life” necklace from Adrian Dickens (value $4,250)
Prize 2 – A box of long stem roses by Interflora (value $123)
Prize 3 – A Pamper Hamper from Priceline (value $100)

Tickets are $25 each or 5 for $100.

Book your tickets at

Tickets will be drawn on live on Facebook on 11th Feb 2021 at 5pm.
Winners will be notified via phone and email. All prizes will be delivered or pick up can be arranged.
Outside of Melbourne we cannot guarantee all prizes can be delivered by Valentines day.

Like so many things this year, due to the pandemic, our 2020 Gala Ball, which took place on 17 October, looked very different from previous years. Even though we were very disappointed not to be able to pack into the glamourous Regent Ballroom for a night of fun and fundraising, in channelling the spirit of kids we support, we refused to give up and adapted!

After an intense couple of weeks of planning and organising, our Virtual Gala Ball was born, and before we even had a chance to blink, tickets quickly sold out!

As part of the package, guests in Victoria received an exclusive hamper with speciality cheeses, wines, and an assortment of other edible goodies (all sourced from regional Victoria) to enjoy on the night of the Ball. The evening kicked off online, in our guest’s homes, with the mesmerising voice of singer and X Factor Australia Finalist, Amalia Foy.

Next, we met our co-hosts for the evening, Children First Foundation, CEO, Elizabeth Lodge and John Shore, OAM from RPPFM (the Voice of the Peninsula), who hosted the event from the studios of RPPV. They were joined by a series of guests, including Tamara Newing from Boatshed Cheese and Stephen Shelmerdine AM from Shelmerdine Wines, who guided guests through the paired wines and cheeses.

Associate Professor Leo Donnan was presented with the Pat Weldon Humanitarian Award on the night, and guests were also treated to a fascinating keynote speech from Professor Ton Tran. Comedian, Dave O’Neil provided us with entertainment and much laughter.

While the kids, who all looked fabulous in their ball attire, made several appearances throughout the evening via video link – another highlight of the event!

We were delighted to have raised over $75,000! We were blown away by the support and generosity of everyone who got involved. A huge thank you to everyone who purchased ball tickets, hampers and raffle tickets and who bid on auction items and made donations on the night.

We know that 2020 has been a tough year for many people, and this made everyone’s support even more profound.

Below are just some of the many comments we received from those that attended our Virtual Gala Ball:

“Congratulations on a wonderful Virtual Gala Ball. Fantastic you reached your fundraising goal. It was really heartwarming to see the beautiful kids at The Retreat and hear you speak. The hamper was amazing.”

“Just wanted to tell you that your Virtual Gala Ball, has been the highlight of 2020 for us.”

“Thank you, it was a truly special evening, and the Hamper was amazing.”

“I do hope that in 2021 you run the Virtual Gala Ball alongside the actual Gala Ball. For people, like myself and my husband who would find it very difficult to attend physically, it was a truly wonderful and joyful experience. Thank you also to the children for entertaining us.”

This event could not have been possible without the generosity and support of so many individuals and organisations, these include:

  • RPPV, with special thanks to Stephen Meyers for technical support on the night
  • John Shore, OAM
  • Dave O’Neil
  • Amalia Foy
  • Professor Ton Tran
  • Stephen Shelmerdine AM and the Shelmerdine Wine Company
  • Lady Marigold Southey, AC
  • Tamara Newing and Boatshed Cheese
  • Grant and the team from Jetty Rd Brewery
  • Dr Sue English
  • Luke Shore
  • Chris Gillies
  • Lisa Barron
  • Karen Bolinger
  • Catherine Curry-Hyde
  • Penelope Trumble
  • Karen Hayes, AM
  • Cathy Grant, Michelin Wannis and the team at GDJ
  • Simon Braham from Gala Fundraising
  • The Children First Foundation Events Committee.

It is with much regret that I must let you know that our annual Sparkling Lunch is cancelled for 2020. Given the uncertainty around Coronavirus, and current advice around social gatherings, I feel that cancelling the event now is our best and only option.

If the virus has impacted you or your loved ones, my thoughts and those of the entire CFF family are with you, and we wish you a speedy recovery.

I know that the Lunch is much looked forward to by many of you and I am VERY sorry for any disappointment. Not only is it a wonderful event where I get to see many of your lovely faces, it is also a crucial fundraiser for us.

We already had a child in mind whose surgery we were hoping the funds from the Lunch would be able to support. In these unsettling times, those who are in need are even more vulnerable. 

I would be incredibly grateful if you would consider making a donation in lieu of attending the Lunch.

Paska is a 9-year old boy from a remote village off New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. He is the oldest of four children and lives with his mum, dad and siblings. Paska has a facial tumour which is expanding rapidly. It is currently the size of a small football and invading his eye, nose and mouth spaces.

He is presently at the Port Moresby General Hospital but is not having any treatment, as the required surgery cannot be done in-country. As the tumour grows, it will have a huge impact on Paska’s quality of life; he will likely begin to struggle to breathe and to eat.

Without surgical intervention, Paska’s future is uncertain.

But with your support Children First Foundation can help him.

The Coronavirus will delay our ability to facilitate Paska’s treatment. This means that when he is able to arrive his condition will have progressed, and surgery will be even more urgent.

The treating surgeon has let us know that Paska will need access to specialised ICU, therefore his surgery will need to be done at The Royal Children’s Hospital. As Children First Foundation supporters, you may recall that when the children need to be treated in a public hospital, CFF are required to cover the full costs of the hospital.

If you would normally have joined us at the Lunch itself, or even if you’ve never been before, you can still make a big difference by supporting Paska from your home. I would be incredibly grateful if you could give in the same way as you would have done at the Lunch itself or if you might consider donating:

  • THE PRICE OF YOUR TICKET $95 won’t be needed for your lunch this year, but it would pay for 30 minutes in ICU. It’s likely that Paska will need 24 hours of ICU care. 
  • YOUR BOTTLE OF BUBBLY – $50 won’t buy you a bottle to share, but it could help cover the costs of 30 minutes on the ward. Paska will be in the hospital for at least 5 days.
  • YOUR RAFFLE TICKET BOOK – $25 won’t win you any amazing prizes, but it would support us with the costs of the pre and post surgery consultations. Paska will need at least 2 appointments before his surgery and 2 afterwards.

In fact, if everyone who came to the Lunch last year donated the price of their ticket then together we could pay for all of Paska’s ICU costs, all of his ward costs and all of his appointments. Imagine if everyone who reads this donated….well we’d cover the full surgery.

I am so disappointed that we can’t all be together for the Lunch. However, as one of our great supporters recently said to me we can instead choose to “start an epidemic of kindness and compassion, and hope that we all try to make it very contagious.”

Paska at home with his family