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Cruise for Mates: Holiday for a cause

Matt Golinski

By JANELLE BLOOM

Six celebrity chefs, two luxury European River Cruises, one unbreakable bond of friendship – in aid of burns survivor, Matt Golinski.

This post is about the chance to enjoy a holiday, river cruising through France or from Amsterdam to Budapest in 2013 with three crazy chefs on board each cruise!

I’ll tell you more about that later, but firstly, I wanted to say a huge thank you to you the readers of Mamamia and iVillage (not to mention Mia, Lana & staff).

When I posted a blog here earlier this year about my friend Matt Golinski and the fundraising initiative called Plates for Mates that I, Alastair McLeod, George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, Manu Feildel, Damian Heads created to help him, we received so much positive support and feedback. I wanted to extend a big thanks for your kindness, from the bottom of our hearts.

Some of you may recall that Matt tragically lost his beautiful wife and three children in a house fire on Boxing Day 2011. Matt received horrific burns to over 40% of his body as a result of the blaze. At the time Plates for Mates was conceived Matt was still in a medically induced coma. We really had no idea what the future might hold.  Even as he clung to life we knew that Matt was always the guy who saw the positive in everything, so taking his ‘lead’ we forged ahead, hoping and praying that some good might come out of this unimaginable tragedy.

Ten months on, the news is indeed somewhat more positive. Matt is quite simply an amazing human being. Against all the odds and the excruciating pain he has suffered, he continues to make progress with his recovery. His physical progress just blows me away, but knowing him the way I do, I shouldn’t really expect anything different.

Just let me share a personal story with you about a recent visit to Matt.  Along with another friend, Tara, we flew up to Queensland to visit Matt. My hand luggage was laden with homemade treats including my ‘famous’ chocolate brownies and a citrus cake. I think the baggage screening people at the airport got a bit of a chuckle that day. Matt was, as always, so happy to see us and determined to show us how far he had progressed since leaving hospital. We enjoyed some lunch complete with a bottle of bubbles (he knows me too well) and had a slow walk around the peaceful produce garden he has helped to create on the property where he is currently living with his father. We talked, laughed and cried (well, ok, I did most of the crying as Matt is a tough Aussie bloke!) but most of all focused on the future.

The truth is that Matty still has years of painful rehabilitation ahead of him and plenty to deal with physically and emotionally.  Though I can’t begin to imagine how he pushes through the pain barrier every minute of every day, and how much he must miss his family, I think it’s his steadfast commitment to honouring the memory of his late wife and girls that has made him want to turn his tragedy into triumph and help others (remarkable don’t you think?). As Matt’s mate, we all want to help him continue to do that.

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The Plates for Mates team

Plates for Mates was a remarkable success, with fundraising events staged all across the country. Although we were all raising money for Matt, in typical ‘generous Matt’ fashion, Matt decided to gift some of the funds raised to help other burns related charities including the Fiona Wood Foundation, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Burns Unit and the Peter Hughes Burn Foundation.

This now brings me now to the holiday part of my story. At the Plates for Mates launch event in Brisbane I met a wonderful guest, Hilary Weir from Harvey World Travel Garden City.  She was so inspired by our bond of friendship with Matt she decided to launch a fundraising extension called Cruise for Mates. Cruise for Mates involves the six of us taking part in two cruises through France and Europe in 2013.  Three of us will be on board each cruise and the aim is to continue to raise funds for Matt and/or the charities he supports.

I know it sounds like a ‘dream gig’ and I guess in some ways it is. We’ll be sampling the wonderful food that our river cruise chefs cook up for us, seeing amazing sights and hosting fellow holiday makers all the while knowing we’re helping Matt. Cruise for Mates is all about friendship, food, (a daily dose of bubbles and French pastries in my case) and fun whilst we fundraise – ‘we are cruising for a cause’.

The cost is the same as any other luxury cruise, but the difference is you get to travel with the seriously funny George, Gary and Damian on the Amsterdam to Budapest cruise 27 August to 13 September, 2013 or with the spunky Frenchman Manu, Alastair and myself on the French cruise 17 June to 5 July, 2013 – or you can join us for both cruises if you like!.

It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t tell you how tricky it’s been to co-ordinate our crazy work schedules so we can participate!

If you are young or young at heart and love wine, food and having fun, this will be a great holiday.

We are all donating our time free-of-charge to ensure that a maximum amount of money is raised. While there is a serious purpose to this cruise, it’s also going to seriously enjoyable. Essential items to pack include your party shoes and a healthy appetite for food and adventure in beautiful European destinations. So if you’re planning a trip for 2013, why not join us?

For more information go to www.cruiseformates.com.au or call Hilary at Harvey World Travel Garden City in Brisbane on 1800 373 267 .

 Janelle Bloom is one of this country’s most-loved tv chefs & food writer. She believes good cooking begins with confidence and a little patience. You can visit her website here.

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