Glossy Events: A (very) Girly High Tea

Glossy Events: A (very) Girly High Tea

It's not every week an email from Therese Rein pops into your inbox. Much less when it's preceded by emails from LifeStyled's Paula Joye, Brisbane MP Grace Grace, Juliette Wright of GIVEIT, Danielle of Baked Relief, journalist Frances Whiting, radio presenter Emily Jade O'Keefe, author Jessica Rudd, author Anita Heiss, journalist Caroline Overington...

But before you accuse me of being a shameless name-dropper, let it be noted that these were not all emails addressed personally to me: I was CC'd in on replies of deserved praise to author Rebecca Sparrow, emcee of Sunday's Ultimate Girly High Tea event, coordinated by the Queensland Writer's Centre (who produce the BEST writer's magazine ever) and held in the ballroom of the Sofitel, Brisbane, in aid of the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal. Champagne and getting fancy on a Sunday morning in aid of a good cause? Yippee! May I have a leave pass from church, God? Why yes you may, says He!

Sparrow, as regular GWAS readers likely know, is also my all-time girl hero (Sparrow's is Therese Rein – "I want you to adopt me" – but more on Rein soon). Back in January, when Sparrow was still in recovery herself from a personal tragedy of the sort that might send anyone else into a spin down the rabbit hole never again to be seen, she put her skill to work and set about organising all her gal pals for an event to help those affected by the floods. 'Tis in the midst of tragedy that our true colours show, no? And so, The Ultimate Girly High Tea, with its warmth and humour and inclusiveness – all very Sparrow qualities – was born. Tickets were snatched up within seconds of Sparrow writing about the event in her beloved (last) Sunday Mail column.

In addition to Mia Freedman, who together with Joye and Overington flew up from Sydney for the event at their own expense, special guests of the event, who were each allocated a table to preside over, also included radio presenter Robin Bailey, and authors Kate Morton, Rachael Burmingham, Tara June Winch, Shay Stafford, Carolyn Donovan and Kate Hunter.

Sparrow is a wonderful presenter, who must be considered for hosting next year's Logie Awards (TV's most self-flagellating gig? Perhaps not). The keynote address, however, was reserved for Therese Rein, who proved where her daughter, Jessica Rudd, gets her writerly inclinations from. It was poetic. If the floods themselves were Biblical, then Rein's words were of Ecclesiastic quality.

But special mention must also go to Freedman, who after handing out the raffle prizes with her new friend Sparrow, paid tribute to Georgie, Bec's little girl, who never knew the world but was loved nonetheless (I think God reserves special places in Heaven for these little ones).

A mother's love, as we will reflect on this Sunday with our own mums (off to the post office for me today!), is the MOST important start any girl can have in life. With it, you can soar to the stars and back, as many (all) of the accomplished, brilliant women in the room have done. For those who have received it only conditionally, or reservedly or not at all, you can literally spend your life walking wounded. BUT there are women everywhere ready to fill that void, to bridge the gap, to lift you up and set you on the right path. These are God's true angels. One of them sat on my table.

This lady, who sat with her daughter, both Loreto old girls, told me about how she'd adopted two young girls while raising her own five children. They'd been abandoned by their mothers, one battling a drug addiction. Deeply wounded. Lost, alone. And for them she made a home. They still bear some scars, but her care and nurturing and discipline helped to shape them into better pots, less leaky, and ready to be filled with all of life's good things. Like good jobs and weddings. Amazing.

Next year, Therese Rein has suggested that the Girly High Tea support the Second Chance Fund for homeless women. I think that's a mighty good idea. All girls deserve second chances.

Girl With a Satchel

P.S. My table...

P.P.S. And a moment for self-indulgence... I wore the Mrs. Press dress gifted to me by the designer herself for my 30th birthday (God bless you!!!!), which I have been DYING to find an excuse to get into (I even propositioned Husband with the idea of having our vows renewed!), and was joined by GWAS writer Lucy Brook, who looked very Audrey in her lace frock...


Sam said...

Erica my friend, I have the biggest amount of envy right now, what an awesome event to be invited to and experience. I so wished I was there that room would have been bursting with female awesomeness. I especially love and admire Caroline Overington.
Thanks for sharing with us.
Love ya heaps.

Anonymous said...

That is a stunning dress Erica (love Mrs Press!) and what a beautiful column and a great day. Hooray for Rebecca Sparrow, hooray for girl power, and hooray for real human strength revealing itself on the wings of a tea pot and some pink cupcakes.

Karli said...

A beautiful post and it was such an amazing joy to attend. I spent the last part of thentea looking for you, Erica as I happily met most of my favourijte bloggers bar you!

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

Alas, I had to bolt from the event as soon as it was up as my coach (Ford Fiesta) was to take me to a wedding, which necessitated a quick change out of the white Mrs Press dress for fear of doing a Pippa Middleton (Caroline Overington suggested I wear the lovely thing, but I just couldn't bring myself to break with convention!). Would have been nice to meet you, Karli. And love your turn of "wings of a tea pot and some pink cupcakes" phrase, Louisa. x

Unknown said...

Ahhhh so many inspirational Aussie women in the room, it's almost blinding! I have so much respect and admiration for each and every one of them. Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful event :)

PS. Your dress is divine <3

somekindofwonderful said...

pretty! who was the celebrity on your table?

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

Hilarious - the 'celebrity' on my table would be me. But I assured the ladies we were in very close proximity to Mia Freedman.

Digella said...

Erica! I was so sad not to have been able to meet any of the wonderful special guests because it was the fastest 3 hours in my life! I would have loved to have got the chance to say hello to you as I have followed your blog since your letter to the Editor was published in Australian Traveller.

My poor table guests. I felt sorry for them. I said "Well I bet you feel ripped off now that you have heard all the other special guests on other tables and you got stuck with me!"

Was a LOVELY day and I hope if you make it next year that I will get to say hello.

Danielle Crismani

julialow said...

Eeep! So much loveliness one place! What a gorgeous occasion it must've been, and with so many empowering women in attendance, too!

Glad you had a great Sunday, Erica. x

Niki M said...

Aussie ladies are tea-riffic!

Caroline Overington said...

I was there, and I can tell you: erica, your dress looked absolutely stunning.