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Kelly’s Christmas vision

08 Dec 2016

Kelly’s Christmas vision Image

While many will be relaxing over the festive season, Vision Australia event manager and Southbank resident Kelly Swanson will be busy organising Australia’s biggest Carols by Candlelight event.

Ms Swanson is charged with the huge responsibility of putting together Vision Australia’s annual Carols by Candlelight at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl each year, which she said was a year-round job.  

“It’s a big time of year for me, Christmas! It really goes all year round as we have to secure sponsorships and just even the logistical side of things as well, it’s always ongoing underneath the surface,” she said.

“Annually this event generates over $1 million, which is wonderful. It’s our flagship fundraiser at Vision Australia and certainly our biggest event.”

Held on Christmas Eve, the event annually attracts more than 10,000 people and raises much needed funds for Vision Australia’s mission to help improve the lives of Australians who are blind or have low vision.  

The organisation will celebrate its 150th year of operation in 2017 and having worked there for six years now, Kelly said it had been a privilege to help drive its efforts to help people in need.

“We change people’s lives. The work that we do is really empowering for people. That’s our goal – to empower people to live as independently as possible,” she said.

“It’s a very individualised service. It’s not one size fits all so that’s a really nice way of working and I really appreciate that about the organisation.”

According to Vision Australia, there were an estimated 357,000 Australians in 2013 with blindness or low vision and the figure is set to grow to 564,000 by 2030.  

Kelly said it was a cause that was close to a lot of people’s hearts and that the community spirit around the carols was always very high.

“If you were to survey all Australians or most people in the world, the sense that people fear losing the most is sight,” she said.

“It really can be quite disruptive and we obviously work to ensure that people who do go through that can still continue life as normal as possible and live it how they want to live it.”

With the venue provided by Arts Centre Melbourne, broadcasting provided by Channel 9 and a range of local and national sponsors, the event is a truly wonderful community event.  

Local residents will be able to enjoy the biggest Carols by Candlelight yet, with the return of musical favourites such as Marina Prior and Denis Walter and an expanded program of family activities in Alexandra Gardens.

Having lived in Southbank for four years now, Kelly said she loved everything about living in the area and encouraged the local community to come experience the Christmas magic!

“I’ve lived in Southbank for about four years and it has sort of surprised me with how fantastic it is. I just feel really lucky that I’m so close to the city but not in the city,” she said.

“I hope the community crosses big St Kilda Rd to come over! It is amazing the community feeling around carols.”

For more information and to purchase tickets visit carols.visionaustralia.org

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