As London prepared to host the Olympic Games we celebrated Australia’s Olympic Champions and Olympic Heritage.


Australia House
21st January


Yasmin Sewell and Barrie Humphries
Barry Humphries AO, CBE
Australian of the Year in the UK

Barry Humphries was named 2012 Australian of the Year in the UK and when presenting the award,   Philip Aiken, Chairman said ‘Barry Humphries is quite simply one of the funniest and most revered artists Australia has produced and he is loved by millions of people throughout the world and is a truly worthy recipient of the 2012 Australian of the Year in the UK award.”

Humphries is a legendary Australian comedy performer and after writing and performing songs and sketches in university revues, he joined the Melbourne Theatre Company.  In 1956 he created the character of Mrs Everage, a Melbourne housewife who went on to become the internationally celebrated Megastar, Dame Edna.

Humphries' other satirical characters include comic strip hero Barry McKenzie, trade union con-man and now consultant Lance Boyle, Alexander 'Sandy' Stone, epitome of suburban decency and the Falstaffian diplomat and bon viveur Sir Les Patterson, Australia's cultural attaché to the Court of St James', avid republican and Minister for the 'Yartz'.

Humphries was born in 1934, and educated at Melbourne Grammar School and at the University of Melbourne where he studied philosophy and fine arts. During this time he became Australia's leading exponent of the deconstructive and absurdist art movement, Dada.

He moved to London in 1959 and throughout the 60’s appeared in West End productions including ‘Oliver!’ and ‘Maggie May’ by Lionel Bart; stage and radio productions by Spike Milligan, notably The Bed Sitting Room.  In 1967 he starred as Fagin in the revival of ‘Oliver!’ and 30 years later returned to the role in Cameron Mackintosh’s award winning revival at the London Palladium.

In the mid 70’s Humphries starred at the Apollo Theatre in ‘Housewife, Superstar!’ and other more theatrical offerings including ‘A Night with Dame Edna’, winning him the Society of West End Theatres Award; ‘An Evening’s Intercourse in 1982’; two seasons of ‘Back With a Vengeance’ 1987/88; ‘Look At Me When I’m Talking to You’ 1996 and ‘Edna, The Spectacle’ in 1998. 

Numerous television appearances in Australia and the UK include ‘The Bunyip’ a children’s comedy for channel 7 in Melbourne; two highly successful series of his talk show ‘The Dame Edna Experience’ for London Weekend Television with a host of ‘megastar’ guests including Liza Minnelli, Robin Williams, Cher and Kim Basinger.  These popular programmes have since been repeated all over North America and Europe winning him the Golden Rose of Montreaux in 1991.

As Sir Les Patterson, Barry hosted a satirical chat show, ‘A Late Lunch with Sir Les’, and wrote and presented the BBC2 documentary, ‘Sir Les and The Great Chinese Takeaway’ which took him to Hong Kong just prior to the British handover in 1997, giving, in his own words, “an impartial, impersonal, unbiased view of the historic event!”

‘Dame Edna – The Royal Tour’ was a massive Broadway hit in 2000, resulting in Humphries winning the inaugural Special Tony Award for a Live Theatrical Event and two National Broadway Theatre Awards for Best Play and for Best Actor.

Alongside his theatre career of nearly fifty years, Humphries has written several books, novels, autobiographies and plays and produced a host of films and television series.  His autobiography won the J.R. Ackerley Prize for Biography in 1993.  His many awards include honorary doctorates from Melbourne and Griffith Universities and in 1982 Barry Humphries was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia and in 2007 Commander of the Order of the British Empire, both for services to the theatre.

Matthew Jukes
Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK

“Matthew Jukes has undoubtedly made a huge contribution to the Australian wine industry and as Patron and Founder of ‘Touch Wine Australia’ Matthew Jukes is a truly worthy recipient of the 2012 Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award said Philip Aiken, Chairman of the Foundation.  

In a wine trade survey, UK retailers were asked which wine writer has the most influence over their customers. The answer was, unanimously, Matthew Jukes. In another list compiled by OLN (Off Licence News)  last year, Jukes was voted the most influential wine writer in the UK.

With over 9 million Daily Mail readers a week, Matthew Jukes has the most keenly followed wine column in the UK and he also writes for MoneyWeek weekly and is a regular contributor to both The Week and Decanter Magazine. 

Jukes has won the highly prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Wine Communicator of the Year and is the wine buyer for Bibendum Restaurant & Oyster Bar, the Masala World group of Indian Restaurants in London, and the exclusive, private wine club Quintessentially Wine worldwide. 

All six editions of The Wine List, his annual wine guide, were UK bestsellers. He created and co-authored Taste Food & Wine, an annual wine guide published in Australia and New Zealand, with Brisbane-based wine writer Tyson Stelzer.  Taste was a number one bestseller in its inaugural year of publication and it has won the Australian Food Media Award for Best Food and Writing. 

Jukes lectures and judges all over the world, most recently in Canberra for the National Wine Show of Australia.  Last January he was asked to sit on the inaugural panel of the London version of the Stonier International Pinot Noir Tasting after having done so twice in Melbourne.  He then went on to moderate the Melbourne event last November. 

He is the creator of a handful of ground-breaking, annual, wine releases including the 100 Best Australian Wines and he launched the ’Hall of Fame’ of the 100 Best Australian Wines in May 2010 in London.  He tours the UK each year with his 100 Best Road show spreading the word about these great wines.  Five years ago Matthew created The Great Australian Red competition - the annual quest to find the finest Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz in Australia, which he says is the ‘the blend that defines Australia’.Matthew is the Patron and Founder of Touch Wine – which started in 2005 raising money for the Hutt St Centre for Homeless in Adelaide.  Wine Rules used the Touch Wine template for the first time in Melbourne, in 2010, and this event raises funds for St Mary’s House of Welcome. These annual events are incredible celebrations of fine wine, delicious food, loud music and deft ‘touch footy’ skills!  To date his various initiatives have raised over $750,000AUD for charity and Jukes maintains that his greatest personal satisfaction is derived from the growth and success of Touch Wine.

Yasmin Sewell
Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK

Awarding Yasmin Sewell the 2012 Young Australian Achiever of the Year in the UK award,  Philip Aiken commented ‘Yasmin Sewell has proved that if you are exceptionally talented and have a commitment and love of what you do you can achieve great success in your chosen field and that is why the Australia Day Foundation considers her a worthy recipient of this award’.

Born in Coogee, New South Wales, Sewell now lives in London's east end.  At 21 she set up her own boutique Yasmin Cho in 1999 in London's Soho. Described as an Aladdin’s cave of almost 50 undiscovered designers, Yasmin Cho was listed by the New York Times as one of the top 5 boutiques in the world.

Sewell went on to become the Buying Director for Browns boutiques for three years and  is known for her knack of predicting the "next big thing".  Sewell has launched the careers of many of the most influential designers of today such as Rick Owens, Pierre Hardy, Christopher Kane and Acne.

Yasmin set up her own consultancy in 2008, where she works with her team on projects including retail strategies, trend direction for fashion brands and creative direction for young designers.

One of her most recent roles was as Chief Creative Consultant of the Liberty Department store in London where Sewell overhauled the iconic store’s women’s wear and accessories department. She brought in over 60 designers, redesigned the three floors and spearheaded the marketing and press department to make it the destination shop in London.  In August 2009, just 6 months after Yasmin's renaissance was launched, Liberty reported is biggest half yearly profit in over 10 years, and soon after was awarded "Best British Store" by Time Out Magazine awards.

Sewell  is lending her expertise to Westfield where she reveals the seasonal trends for the UK and Australian fashion retail markets. She says it’s the kind of work she loves doing, working with very talented Australian stylists, bloggers and creative’s.

Sewell is committed to supporting young talent in the fashion industry. Her eye for new designers is well known, and this reputation has been acknowledged through Sewell's work with the British Fashion Council where she consults on its mentoring programs with young designers. She has contributed to awards boards including ‘Swarovski Emerging Talent Award’ and is a regular judge of the British Fashion Awards.  

Sewell frequently travels back to Australia where she consults to a variety of clients, from brands, to high street retailers and designers. Sewell is very passionate about continuing to work in Australia because she considers it an important global market place. 


Guest Australian chef Brett Graham

When Brett Graham created the menu for the gala dinner in 2009 his Notting Hill restaurant The Ledbury had received many accolades and been awarded its first Michelin star. 

The Ledbury has since been awarded a much coveted second Michelin star, won the National Restaurant of the Year Award, and Brett’s gastro pub in Fulham, The Harwood Arms, achieved the first and only Michelin star to be awarded to a London pub.   

Last year The Ledbury was voted the 34th best restaurant in the world, the highest new entrant in the San Pellegrino list and came in at number four spot in The Times Top 200 list. 


Caroline O’Connor, Steven Grace, Nathan Pinnell, Mandy Liddell and Lisa Norman

Caroline O’Connor is recognised as Australia’s Leading Lady of Musical Theatre with an International career that has encompassed all areas of the Entertainment Industry.  Her most recent appearance was as Phyllis Rogers Stone in the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of Follies.  She has recorded four solo CD’s What I did for Love, Stage to Screen, A Tribute to Piaf, and most recently, A Tribute To Garland.


Sydney born Steven Grace is an award winning performer, who most recently appeared in the West End musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and with Darcey Bussell in the BBC’s Xmas Day TV special Darcey Dances Hollywood.  Last year Steven launched his production company in Australia, Big Finish Productions.



BG Group

National Australia Bank


Rio Tinto


Treasury Wine Estates


Anglo American

BHP Billiton



Ramsay Healthcare

Robert Walters

Tourism Australia


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