Maitland Black and White luncheon 2018 at Maitland Showground

It was a luncheon oozing with inspiration and positive messages.

And it had an important role – raising money for visually impaired and blind people in the Hunter Valley.

So it was very fitting that Gabbi Hollows, wife of Fred Hollows and the founding director of the Fred Hollows Foundation, took to the stage as the guest speaker at the annual Maitland Black and White luncheon on Thursday.

Singer Matt McLaren, a former contestant on Australia’s Got Talent, entertained the 420 guests at Maitland Showground with an inspirational performance.

Mr McLaren is visually impaired but that hasn’t stopped him from following his dream.

Maitland Black and White committee president Heather McLaren said the combination of Mrs Hollows and Mr McLaren left guests feeling inspired. 

“I think they walk away with a lot of joy to see that we are able to gather together as a community to support those who have a visual problem,” she said.

MUSIC TO THEIR EARS: Singer Matt McLaren and his guide dog Stamford perform at yesterday's big fundraising luncheon. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

MUSIC TO THEIR EARS: Singer Matt McLaren and his guide dog Stamford perform at yesterday's big fundraising luncheon. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.

“The Commonwealth Games this year actually highlighted that no matter what disability you have, you can personally achieve great things and Gabbi is seeing that in her lifestyle and also so is Matt McLaren – he is entertaining all of these people as a blind man.

“I think that sort of thing is highlighted by the Commonwealth Games and we are highlighting it too.

“It’s encouragement of anyone with a disability to get out and have a go. The message is don’t hold back because disability is nothing, it is part of our life and we embrace it.” 

Maitland Black and White Committee raises funds for the blind and visually impaired in the Hunter for Vision Australia. 

Ms McLaren said this year’s event was particularly special. 

“Last year was our 50th year of inception but this year is the 50th luncheon we’ve held, the first one was held at Anambah House in 1968 and today we are in the pavilion at Maitland Showground,” she said. 

“We have a great support system in the town, we have many people who have donated their time or raffle prizes. The raffle prizes are absolutely fabulous, we have 37 raffle prizes that were all donated.”