Virgin Blue goes black for Earth Hour

Virgin Blue goes black for Earth Hour, by Katherine Feeney - 30th March 2008
(Credit: The Sun-Herald)

The inaugral Virgin Blue Charity Hangar Ball plunged more than 2000 guest into darkness when the lights went off for Earth Hour, transforming the mammoth hangar into what may have been the biggest candlelit dinner in the southern hemisphere.

Aerial acrobats suspended from the cavernous ceiling twirled to the powerful chords of premier Australian electric string trio Maske as the collection of celebrities, corporate heavyweights and government dignitaries settled to enjoy the evening whilst the light remained.

Co-hosts Virgin Blue co-founder and CEO Brett Godfrey and Queensland Premier Anna Bligh welcomed the traditional owners of the land surrounding the Pinkenbah hangar in their opening addresses, encouraging support for the Ball's nominated charities chosen by Virgin staff around the theme Indigenous Peoples, Natural Environment.

Godfrey then introduced a traditional indigenous welcome ceremony, which included traditional song and dance and the secret involvement of a surprise performer who's identity was revealed at the conclusion.

After revealing himself to the assembled guests, dressed in traditional aboriginal costume and body paint, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson echoed the sentiments of Bligh and Godfrey, warmly acknowledging the history of the Jagera and Turrbal aboriginal groups.

Premier Anna Bligh also congratulated fellow guest Lord Mayor Campbell Newman on his recent Brisbane Council victory and emphasised the importance of climate awareness.

At the conclusion of official welcoming procedures, The Earth Hour countdown began in earnest, with the subsequent result eliciting thrilled exhalations and applause from each corner of the hangar.

The party than really began, with New Zealand band Evermore taking to the stage sparsely lit by solar lights and the blue glow from the eco-lanterns of assisting Virgin Blue staff.

In the midst of the evenings entertainment, which also included a performance from Australian soul diva Marcia Hines, guest indulged in a sumptuous menu carefully prepared by Bretts Wharf executive chef Alastair McLeod.

Between mains and dessert, guests were invited to participate in an auction offering a collection of money-can't-buy experiences that included a safari at Branson's own, African game park, naming rights to a Virgin Blue aircraft?? and the chance to appear in Russell Crowe's latest Hollywood movie.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were bid in an attempt to secure the coveted lots and raise money for the many worthy charities, with Branson so determined to beat the record set at last year's ball he took the watch from his wrist and put it up for sale.

Australian swimming champion Elka Graham also took to the stage to donate her luxury Swiss timepiece with bids the successful bid for the famous his and hers watches topping over $20 000.


Virgin Blue

Virgin Blue Hanger Ball

Richard Branson

Brett Godfrey

Virgin Unite

Earth Hour