High fashion. Champagne. Watching some of the world’s best polo players in action in the Swan Valley. It’s not hard to understand why Bentley Polo In The Valley is one of the biggest events on the social calendar. But more important than the glamour and merriment is the money and awareness the event raises for charities Telethon and Youth Focus.
While Telethon needs little introduction – the West Australian charity raised $38 million in 2018, bringing the total raised since 1968 to $306 million – Youth Focus is a more recently established, but no less vital, community organisation. Founded in 1994, the mental health charity helped a record number of WA clients in the past financial year. It offered free counselling and assessment services to 3678 young people, as well as school and community education to another 6000.
“Suicide is the leading cause of preventable death in young Australians,” says Youth Focus CEO Arthur Papakotsias. In 2017, 51 young people aged between 15 and 24 in WA died by suicide. “Not only does this event help encourage crucial awareness of Youth Focus and our free counselling services, it also raised more than $780,000 in the nine years we’ve been involved.”
Or to put that figure in more tangible terms, that money helped fund 5200 counselling sessions. The Prendiville family, owners of the Cottesloe Beach Hotel and Rottnest Hotel, have hosted the event on their Swan Valley property Duncraig Stud for the past decade. This year, the event will celebrate its 10th anniversary and fundraise past the million-dollar mark.
As well as Bentley Polo In The Valley, the Hawaiian Ride For Youth (held in March, this year’s event raised $2.2 million) and Night of Nights (August) are Youth Focus’s other major fundraising events. In addition to assisting those in the metropolitan area, Youth Focus also works throughout regional Western Australia and offers free and confidential face-to-face and web-based counseling. This week, the organisation announced a new initiative with the Royal Flying Doctor Service that will allow Youth Focus to station clinicians in remote areas and Indigenous communities.
Marquee tickets are still available with options including the GH Mumm VIP Marquee, Youth Focus Marquee, Polo Lounge and Picnic Bays. The day also includes fashion on the field and the traditional Pretty Woman-style divot stomp.
Bentley Polo In The Valley is at Duncraig Stud on Saturday April 6. Tickets are available online.