24 May 2023

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea reaches 30 years of fundraising – thanks to your hard work!

| Claire Sams
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The Biggest Morning Tea is returning for its 30th year – and you’re invited! Photo: Cancer Council ACT.

It’s time to set out the cakes and biscuits (and some carrot sticks for a healthy option) for a morning tea with a difference – Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

Cancer Council ACT CEO Verity Hawkins says that in the 30 years since its establishment, the Biggest Morning Tea has become part of the annual calendar for many workplaces and people in the community.

“It’s the 30th birthday celebration of Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, which is pretty amazing,” she says.

“I can certainly remember it happening in my workplace when I was just starting out in my career 30 years ago.

“It’s pretty significant to think ‘Wow, it’s been going for all this time.'”

But this is more than a chance to eat some cakes – your fundraising efforts support the hard work of the Cancer Council ACT.

“Without the fundraising that comes from the community, our work wouldn’t be able to advance in the way it has,” Verity says.

The money supports cancer prevention services and helps patients and their families – as well as the annual Research Grant Program.

READ ALSO ‘From the lab to the bedside’: Plans unveiled for new cancer research centre at Canberra Hospital

Since 2003, Cancer Council ACT has contributed more than $2 million towards cancer research in the ACT. Two more Canberra-based researchers, Dr Olga Zaytseva and Emeritus Professor Philip Board from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at Australian National University, received grants this year.

Emeritus Professor Board’s project will study whether the GSTO1 inhibitors they have developed can slow or even stop the growth of different cancers. Dr Zaytseva’s research will look at genetic mutations in brain cancer subtypes to potentially identify drugs that can target cancerous cells while leaving healthy brain cells unharmed.

“As always with these grants, it was a bit unexpected,” Dr Zaytseva says.

“It was a wonderful surprise to learn that I was successful.”

The applications are reviewed by a committee and shortlisted before the successful candidates are notified.

“You just submit these grants and always hope, knowing that the chances are usually low, but you still cross your fingers,” she says.

“It just makes hearing the news of the successful outcome that much more exciting.”

Six people standing in a line and looking at the camera

Funds raised from Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea go towards the annual Cancer Council Research Grant Program. Pictured at the announcement for the 2023 ACT grants: Roger Buckley, Governor General David Hurley and Mrs Linda Hurley, Professor Phillip Board and senior research officer Naomi Mitchell from The John Curtin School of Medical Research, and Professor Paul Craft. Photo: Hilary Wardaugh.

A postdoctoral researcher, Dr Zaytseva says the grant money will support research for a year and cover the costs of running experiments.

“As I am still starting out my career, it’s so important to build my profile in the field, especially when competing with established academics.

“This grant will help develop my line of research, and I am extremely grateful to Cancer Council ACT for their support.”

Submissions for the Cancer Council grants were strong, according to Verity.

“It’s really competitive – we had a number of applications that were assessed this year,” she says.

“There’s definitely a lot of great work that’s going on in Canberra at the different universities.”

READ ALSO The Cancer Council ACT program that helps survivors escape the ‘post-treatment vacuum’

So while the scrumptious food is a benefit, there’s more to this morning tea than meets the eye.

“We all love a morning tea and we all love a cup of tea,” Verity says.

“A cup of tea is so important, often, in having those really important, supportive conversations and sharing when you’re feeling overwhelmed and just need to reach out and speak to someone.

“There’s a huge aspect about that, in it sees people coming together and forging those connections over a cup of tea.”

While the official day for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is Thursday 25 May, events will be held across the country on other days in May and June.

Those looking to host their own morning tea through May and June can register to get involved to host an in-person or online event via Biggest Morning Tea.

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