PEOPLE gathered across the south-west yesterday afternoon for the race that stops a nation.
At the Star of the West Hotel in Port Fairy, the 12th annual Heather Holcombe Foundation fund-raiser took place, organised by committee member and friend Sue O’Keefe along with Heather’s son and daughter.
The fund-raising initiative began after Mrs Holcombe passed away aged 40 from cancer.
Melbourne Cup was her favourite day of the year.
About 110 people attended the event, raising money for the palliative care unit at the Port Fairy hospital.
“We’ve donated $4000 to the Jane McGrath Foundation, $13,000 to Peter’s Project and $1500 to Make a Wish Milly from Yambuk in the past and we now have plans to donate to the reconstructive surgery machine in Warrnambool,” Ms O’Keefe said.
“It’s a great day and everyone here was a good friend or a relation of Heather, she was a great community member and quite the social butterfly.”
While the women were enjoying some bubbly and fund-raising, schools across the district joined in the festivities with a variety of activities.
St Joseph’s Primary School did its best to cover race day with racing attire, sweeps, Monopoly money games, imaginary betting competitions, catwalks and picnics.
Pupils dressed up in outfits including suits, jockey silks, horse masks, dresses and even just a classy fascinator.
“It’s a fun day because we don’t have to wear our school uniforms and we get to dress up,” pupil Becky Suggett said.
But it’s not all about the fun of Melbourne Cup. “We do a sweep, but we also learn about the odds and lengths,” pupil Harry Price said.
Teacher Jim Guinan said pupils were able to watch the race in class on smart boards. “We also teach students about the history and give the grade six students an opportunity to experience a shared picnic lunch,” he said.