Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Meet the Volunteers!

Heather Batrick

Festival Vice President

A long-term lover of the reef, this passionate scuba diver turned business coach unites her love of community events and the environment with every hour she volunteers to the Great Barrier Reef Festival.

For the past seven years Heather has devoted her business savvy-ness to the festival and used her skills from owning and operating her own dive company, Yongala Dive, to source grants and drive sponsorship.

“It’s great to volunteer with something that includes the reef and brings people here to celebrate the reef,” said Heather.

“And especially with the Immerse Art Installation, it means that people who can’t get out on the reef can still see a magical underwater world.”

Originally from England, Heather has been a Whitsunday local for the past 23 years.

She discovered the Whitsunday Islands when she was travelling Australia and, after diving the Yongala wreck, located 25 metres below the surface near Ayr, she decided to set up a dive company.

Fast-forward to the present day and she is offering her skills as a business coach and consultant with her company HSB Business Solutions, using her spare time to help with the festival.

“I love organising and getting involved with putting the event together,” said Heather.

“When I came back to working in Airlie every day I wanted something that gets me involved with the community and this definitely does that!”

What is your favourite part of the festival:

I love how the event celebrates the Great Barrier Reef which is at our doorstep, and my favourite part of the festival would have to be the Friday night fireworks.

What does the festival mean to you?

The way it celebrates the Great Barrier Reef at our doorstep.

Lisa Stockow

Volunteer Recruiter

For the past 13 years Lisa has played a central role in bringing the Great Barrier Reef Festival to life by organising a sea of volunteers to help ensure its safe and smooth running.

From selling raffle tickets to completing visitor surveys and crowd controlling the larger events, there are over 30 dedicated volunteers offering their time to this much-loved community event.

Known for her enthusiastic and persuasive personality, Lisa uses her charm and charisma to encourage friends, family, and even strangers to volunteer.

Fortunately, most people agree and by the end of the event they are buzzing with excitement and ready to sign-up for the following year.

“We always need volunteers, especially with the pack-down at the end,” explains Lisa.

“It’s exhausting but great fun and we all have a laugh.

“I’ve formed a lot of close friendships over the last 13 years and learnt so many different things.”

A long-term local, Lisa moved to the region when she was just three years old.

She has worked across a range of industries over the years and especially loves customer-facing hospitality roles.

In her spare time, she plays guitar in a rock band with long-term bestie and Festival Chair, Margie Murphy.

What is your favourite part of the festival:

The Friday night fireworks – it symbolises the excitement of it all beginning!

What does the festival mean to you?

Community spirit.

Margie Murphy

Festival Chair

The dynamic leader of the Great Barrier Reef Festival, Margie is a passionate and dedicated event organiser who brings with her a wealth of knowledge in the industry.

Joining the committee in 2009, Margie has been the driving force behind the festival’s direction, constantly moving it forward with her clear vision of how the arts meets the reef and the community.

When she became Festival Chair almost a decade ago, Margie was catapulted from volunteer to organiser, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Some of her highlights include bringing Timomatic to the festival for the opening of the Main Street, where thousands of people gathered to celebrate.

Another key moment for Margie has been finding the ‘festival home’, centralising the event on the Foreshore at Fairy Tree Park.

A large part of this was the introduction of Immerse Art Installation which was Margie’s vision for connecting the three pillars of the festival.

“I’ve always had a passion for the arts, music, culture and of course parties!’ she said.

“Creating Immerse has been a huge highlight over the years and it’s been fabulous to see it all come together so well.”

Of course, Margie is not just the vision for the festival, she is also a hardworking and dedicated member of the team.

From sourcing funding opportunities, chasing sponsorship and organising permits, she is at the pulse of all things Festival.

“I’ve always been able to communicate really well with a lot of different people,” said Margie.

What is your favourite part of the festival:

The opening night and the Fireworks at the Foreshore – it is the moment that everything is set-up and everyone is going ‘wow!’

What does the festival mean to you?

Giving all my energy into creating something that the community enjoys and can be proud of.

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