Festival of Fifty

Stuart and I both recently celebrated a milestone birthday and it’s fair to say that ‘Festival of Fifty’ was a fitting depiction for the ensuing celebrations!

We’ve always been big believers in the importance of celebrating the moments, whether that be in business or in life, and the timing of this one provided opportunities to include as many of the people who are important to us as possible.

Festivities kicked off in Melbourne, where many of our family members are still based, and ensured that we could also include many of our ‘AFL family’ who were in town for the biggest week in the footy calendar.

Festival launch party in Melbourne!

We had a brilliant night celebrating with family and friends, including a surprise appearance by John Fleming (formerly of Scared Weird Little guys), who’d written and performed a song about us as a very special gift from some wonderful friends. You can watch it here, and eagle eyes will also spot John in the video of the following weekends celebrations at Makepeace Island as we loved it so much we had him come up and perform it again there!

From the moment we’d started planning our Festival of Fifty, we’d wanted to include a destination event but one that was relaxed and accessible, and Makepeace Island fit the bill perfectly. Necker Island is one of our favorite party destinations in the world, but it’s quite literally as far away from Australia as is almost globally possible, so was never going to be a realistic option.

Makepeace on the other hand is a short boat trip from Noosa, and with our birthday weekend falling in the school holidays many of our friends were able to not only join us for the weekend but make the most of the chance to extend their break in a beautiful part of Australia. We took some of our inspiration from some legendary Necker nights – a white party was held, tables were danced on – but our amazing team did an incredible job of putting a very Cathie and Stuart stamp on it at the same time.

The awesome party packs that the team put together

Saturday saw everyone arrive on island for a big white party, which included a big screen for the AFL grand final. Contingency plans around getting me back for the party if the Lions had made it unfortunately were able to be torn up a couple of weeks earlier – it’s fair to say that when the party bookings and timings were locked in in January neither Stuart or I were too concerned about needing to be in Melbourne on the last weekend on September, but as the season unfolded that view was well challenged! (Needless to say, I’m planning on keeping that weekend well clear in 2020….)

A passing thunderstorm which took out the big screen mid way through the afternoon didn’t have much impact as the game was already well and truly a wash out in terms of the outcome, but the Richmond fans amongst the crowd were pretty happy, none more so than our great friend Andrew who’d celebrated his own 50th just a couple of days earlier.

We’d had a premonition that a more relaxed recovery day might in order on the Sunday, and our party planners extraordinaire not only designed the perfect day but also the perfect shirt for the occasion – many of which we’re reliably informed are still on high rotation in some wardrobes!

With Belinda, who designed all of our party merch!
The best party planners in the business!

Once the festivities wound up we spent the remainder of the week enjoying life on Makepeace with a few friends and family at a slightly quieter pace, before we headed to Necker where in a great moment of happenstance the timing of this year’s Future Astronaut week allowed it to also qualify as an official Festival of Fifty event!

Another white party on Necker with our VG family

A milestone birthday of any denomination always provides the opportunity to pause and reflect, and the unfortunate reality of the industry that we’re part of is that we’re presented with constant reminders of the fact that there are no guarantees in life. It’s made us both big believers in the importance of seizing the day rather than saving the celebration for the next potential milestone.

We’re so grateful to all of the wonderful friends and family who took time out of their own busy lives to celebrate in one or more locations with us, and in particular want to thank Deb and Tam who did such an amazing job of putting together parties for the ages, Belinda who created such awesome Festival of Fifty merch, and Hailey and Andrew from You Can’t Be Serious who took so many fabulous photos and created this great video of the Makepeace weekend!

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