President's Message

Awards, Networking, and an Inspiring Speaker

Yesterday was a special luncheon as it combined our Annual Newcastle Business Club Awards and Members-Only networking event. We also thoroughly enjoyed hearing from special guest speaker Jessica Koncz.

Jessica Koncz the Novocastrian who blew us away with her story as founder of eatsee has changed the way people discover restaurants. Her success started with her taking photo’s of food dishes, something she loves to do, and she talked us through how this led her to starting Crave (now Eatsee) an app like Tinder that saw her win a pitch competition resulting in $100,00 American and securing an American angel investor. Jessica really came across as unstoppable and someone that we all could not get enough of today.

Following on from Jessica, we proudly announced our Annual Business Awards. Established in 1975, the core purpose of the awards is to recognise businesses and individuals that contribute to the commonweal of the region.

As part of the presentation, winners are gifted a framed image that outlines why they have been awarded, as well as a print of The Summer House, by E.Hilda Rix-Nicholas.

The original painting was purchased in 1976 by the Newcastle Business Club and presented to Newcastle Region Art Gallery for the benefit of the people of the region. It is a lasting gift to mark the inauguration of the Annual Award to an individual and/or organisation from the region who (or which) has made a major contribution to the commonweal of the city.

Rick Prosser, who won the organisation award from 2019, beautifully set the tone of contributing towards “the best city in the world”.

Following tradition, the Organisational winner joins us the following year to share their experiences since winning the award. Unfortunately, due to the troubling year we have seen, Soul Café has been under major pressure with homelessness increasing exponentially. Rick proudly stated though that with the increase in demand he has also seen this region dramatically increase its support. Rick left us on a positive note, thanking the region for its community spirit and generosity.

This year was a difficult one for the judges, with an extensive list of outstanding nominations across the three categories.

The Newcastle Business Club awards have been running for 45 years, and this year’s winners were:

Individual: Marty Adnum
Marty Adnum is the Founder and Managing Director of Out of the Square Media (OOTS) a popular, local creative agency. The award recognises his tireless support for the Newcastle community as an individual and through his agency’s work.

An active member on many boards and cultural organisations, Marty’s is dedicated to creating programs to support segments of the community in need. He recently co-initiated ‘Everyone has a story’ a mental health campaign assisting the manufacturing industry.

During the recent challenging times, Marty rallied community support to create three high-profile projects with the aim of bringing hope and help to others. showcased innovation, creativity and kindness in our community and was a one-stop hub for businesses scrambling during COVID by offering them free advice, such as legal, recruitment, mental health and finances. As restrictions eased, his experiencehunter campaign was launched to entice visitors to destinations in our region.

Organisation: Newy Burger Co.
Newy Burger Co was recognised for using their profile to support and fundraise for local families battling various illnesses and hardship.

Established by Ben Neil, Newy Burger Co was started with a passion for providing Novacastrians with the standard of burgers normally seen in Sydney and Melbourne.

Shortly after Newy Burger Co opened, Ben was introduced to Kane Ransom who was battling leukaemia. Ben’s little boy was about the same age and immediately he wanted to do something to assist the Ransom family. From this, the Newy Burger Co Good Karma Fundraising program was born.
In the last six years, Newy Burger Co has hosted major fundraisers, karma kegs and numerous raffles and auctions, which has raised over $200,000 to assist families and others in the Newcastle Region.

They have also been supporting the team at Soul Café with weekly donations for some time and since the early stages of COVID-19, they started providing free soup and bread to anyone in the community – no questions asked. Also, with the help of 12 other local businesses, they have been distributing ‘Kindness Boxes’ which provide families with meals for a week and other essentials.

Youth: Irini-Stephania Kassas
Irini-Stephania stood out for her exceptional leadership and outstanding commitment to our community while helping raise awareness of Newcastle internationally.

Irini is the Deputy Chair of Newcastle International INC., a not-for-profit agency which focuses on reviewing and sustaining international relational relations between Newcastle and overseas parties.

In work and life, Irini strives to bring people together for the betterment of society and ensuring opportunities are provided for positive social change. Irini paved the way for Newcastle’s engagement on the World Alliance and through this is connecting people on a global scale to elevate Newcastle and encourage international visitors to the region.”

A community-spirited individual, Irini is a volunteer at the Newcastle Museum, participates in the Sleepout for Soul, the Lord Mayor’s Breakfast Prayer, CityServe and sat at the committee for the Hippocrates Australian Greek Aged Care Association. Furthering her involvement in the Hunter, last January Irini become a State Emergency Volunteer with Maitland’s volunteer unit.

Our Next Luncheon will be on the 10th November and we are excited to have Bernadette Inglis CEO of The Newcastle Permanent Building Society as our keynote speaker.

Bernadette moved from Sydney where she was working in a senior leadership role for Westpac Bank.

I encourage you to come along to hear Bernadette’s story, her why for moving to Newcastle and taking on the challenge of leading one of our iconic brands into the future.

Look forward to seeing you there.

Clare Ferguson | 2020 President