16th May 2022 – Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

A night to be remembered!
Warkworth Town Hall, Wednesday the 11th May 2022, 7 pm and the babble of happy voices, laughter, and the clink of glasses was sounding all around me. The room was full with 170 Emergency Services personnel starting to enjoy an evening that had been put on just for them by One Mahurangi, local businesses,and organisations,  and supporting community volunteers.
The inspiration and catalyst for this dinner of gratitude came to me while sitting at home over Christmas and hearing the emergency sirens go off time after time throughout the summer days.  It was an idea I had thought about earlier but the timing hadn’t been right. But as the dust started to settle a little after the latest Covid lockdowns, now seemed like as good a time as any to get the community together for a reminder of just how united and good-spirited we are.
One of the things I love about our community is how quickly people come onboard. After Christmas, I approached all the local Emergency Services with the idea of a  gratitude dinner for them and they all agreed it sounded like a nice idea. Often they only get to come together over a bad situation. To meet each other socially would be a rare and enjoyable opportunity.
I very quickly had Alex from the Warkworth Town Hall onboard and my team at One Mahurangi started to reach out to local businesses, to see if they wanted to contribute to the event with either products and/or services. Within an hour of the first email going out, we had Gary Heaven from Mahurangi River Wines come back and offer to supply all of the wine. This was very quickly followed by Herons Flight and Runner Duck.
As time went on more and more local businesses stepped up and offered their support and goods to the evening. Aldo from Aldo’s Restaurant phoned and said he wanted to help.  He would even close his restaurant for the night to manage the event’s kitchen! What generosity and an amazing job he did!
Grant from Carlton Party Hire told me right from the beginning, “Anything you want, let me know because these people deserve being celebrated.” Carlton Party Hire’s support and contribution to the evening was outstanding and we cannot applaud their generosity enough.
We put a call out for community volunteers to help serve our heroes on the night and people contacted me from all over the Mahurangi region. We had  40 people on our list by the time the dinner came around, we even had the Minister of Police, Hon Poto Williams attend and help serve along with Chris Penk, Marja Lubeck and Mark Mitchell. All of whom got stuck in and served the food and drinks to our VIP guests, our local emergency services heroes.
What an unforgettable night!  As guests arrived, they were greeted by local volunteers holding trays of bubbles and four Oyster Farmers shucking fresh oysters. We had 3 spit-roasts on the go with fresh salads and delicious accompanying dishes contributed by talented, local hospitality businesses. 
The Jade River Ukes entertained our guests until dinner was served, then the wonderful Lulu took over, on stage. We had a few short speeches and then an amazing magic act from Brian Oaks. This was followed by the incredible Andy Richards who had the crowd singing and dancing, it was a wonderful way to finish up the night.
Throughout the night I had a number of our guests tell me they really felt appreciated and that was the goal of the whole event.
An evening of gratitude for our local heroes was only made possible because of the large number of local businesses, organistations, and individual volunteers who worked together and generously contributed.  Thank you once again to all involved. One Mahurangi has always said we are Stronger Together. Well, the Emergency Services Dinner certainly proved that.

Murray Chapman
Manager, One Mahurangi Business Association

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