Feb 3, 2023
The 40th National Velvet and Hard Antler Awards were held on Friday the 15th of December at the Ascot Park Hotel Invercargill with over 160 people attending. There were many past committee members, judges and pioneers of the competition and awards there to celebrate.
The evening meal was the vision of Jane Campbell, the event co-ordinator for the awards. It showcased the whole animal through the menu with venison canapés, main, velvet in the entree of soup and deer milk powder in desserts. Each guest was treated to a locally made chocolate infused with velvet. The meal was enjoyed by all and certainly was a master-piece of local chef Greg.
MC Gerry Forde entertained all, presenting the awards and kept the night flowing. Lloyd Thayer led the haggis party, with Bruce Paterson (Judging Convenor), Tony Cochrane (Major sponsor and judge), Colin McNicol (Life member), and Blake Bulleid piping the Haggis. This was followed by the addressing of the haggis.
David Stevens who was on the committee in 1985 for the first awards dinner spoke of this history of the competition and awards. Tony Pearse shared many images form over the forty years and was presented a painting at the end for acknowledgement of his support of the Southland and Fiordland branches, along with his support for the competition over many years.
All but one of the Southland branch Life members attending the evening and after a photo Nancy Somerville cut the cake.
The Don Johnston award was presented to Brian Russell by Peter Allan for his contribution to the velvet competition over many years. Brian was one of the creators of the spreadsheet that is still used to record all data while judging and put many hours into the velvet completion and awards over the years.
The night finished with reminiscing, sharing memories and stories well into the next day.
The Southland Branch and subcommittee for the competition and awards is to be congratulated for their hours of hard work not just for 2023 but for all the years prior.