In 2023, the UK-Australian community came together to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Foundation Gala Dinner and Award Ceremony. The annual Gala Dinner was held on Saturday 21st January with a menu presented by award-winning chef Skye Gyngall and global media icon Peter Andre taking to the stage, giving a show-stopping performance.
20th Anniversary Gala
Our goal is to connect the UK-Australian community through the celebration of talent. Over the last 20 years, our kitchen, stage and podium has been frequented by some of the most influential individuals across the globe. This year we come together once more to celebrate the accolades of our winners, the skills of our Gala Dinner contributors, the abilities of our Foundation Trust applicants and the success of the brands that gather together to make the evening possible.
Chef Skye Gyngell is one of Britain’s most respected and acclaimed chefs. Best known for her work as food editor for Vogue, and for winning a Michelin star at Petersham Nurseries before opening her ground-breaking restaurant, Spring, which serves up a seasonal menu served in a restored 19th-century drawing room within Somerset House, London. Skye was our guest chef in 2008, we were delighted to welcome her back to present the 20th anniversary menu.
Pop Prince Peter Andre is best known for his lucrative music and TV career and hit songs including ‘Mysterious Girl’ and ‘Flava’, he is the sixth best-selling artist in history. We were overjoyed to welcome Peter Andre to our Australia House stage to celebrate 20 years of the Foundation’s Gala Dinner and Peter’s 30 year commitment to the entertainment industry
The Award Winners
Leanne Benjamin AM, OBE
Australian of the Year in the UK
Leanne Benjamin AM OBE is a renowned Australian ballet dancer who has performed with the Royal Ballet in London for over 20 years, and has also danced with the Australian Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her performances, including the Order of the British Empire for her services to dance. She has danced as Juliet, Cinderella, Giselle, Mary Vetsera in Mayerling, Anastasia, Odette-Odile, Fokine’s Firebird, MacMillan’s Song of the Earth, Manon, Mayerling, and Different Drummer. With her exceptional technique and emotive performances, she has captured audiences around the world. As a choreographer, she has created works for several major ballet companies, including the Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet. Leanne is known for her ability to create works that are both technically challenging and emotionally powerful, and her choreography has been praised for its originality, creativity, and innovation.
Leanne Benjamin is widely considered to be one of the most accomplished and influential dancers of her generation. Her impressive career and outstanding artistry have solidified her place in the history of ballet as one of the most iconic figures of her time.
Sir Tim Rice
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK
English lyricist and author Sir Timothy Rice is best known for his work with the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Together the pair co-wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats and Evita to name a few. He also collaborated with Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA, with whom he co-wrote Chess.Rice has also collaborated with Alan Menken and Elton John for The Walt Disney Company, resulting in works Alladin’s "A Whole New World" which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, a Golden Globe, and a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1992. As well as The Lion King, which won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" in 1994. In 2011, Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber once again collaborated to write brand-new songs for Lloyd Webber's revival of The Wizard of Oz, which debuted in March 2011 at the London Palladium.
In 1994, Rice was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the world of music. His many achievements include a membership in the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was named a Disney Legend, and was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. He is one of seventeen performers who has won an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, and Tony in the US in addition to his awards in the UK.
Young Australian Achiever of the year in the UK
Brendan "Banjo" Beale was born and raised in Central West Australia, NSW. He started his career in advertising which led him to London, after only two days, he realised the bright lights of the capital were not for him and migrated to the Isle of Mull in Scotland where he now lives. Banjo is now an esteemed interior designer and creative director, he started the initial phase of his interior design career by persuading a group of unwitting people to allow him to design their cafe, art gallery and office. Banjo’s talents were clear to see, he brings a little bit of magic to everything he touches, from sourcing vintage furniture and artifacts to developing distinctive design schemes - he is a storyteller, savvy stylists and space maker. In 2022, Banjo’s career went to the next level after winning BBC One’s Interior Design Masters hosted by Alan Carr and Michelle Ogundehin. Later that year Banjo served as a guest judge on Scotland’s Home of the Year alongside series regulars Anna Campbell-Jones and Micheal Angus and has plenty more in the pipeline that will bring his talents to a small screen near you.