• Tatiana Collier

Champions for Cheer

As Ballarat began to recover from a tough year of lockdowns, Ash and Scott McGlynn were determined to lift feelings of positivity within their home, and to spread that feeling into the community.

From that concept, Cheer Box was born.

Scott and Ash McGlynn worked their way through 2020 as best they could. Like all Victorians, their work and family lives were changed significantly by COVID-19 and state-wide lockdowns.

At the time, Scott was an assistant principal of a local primary school – a job he loved. However, as 2020 unfolded, and the work challenges increased, Scott found himself on a downward spiral that affected every aspect of his life.

“I was dealing with an intense workload that was incredibly complex. Part of the role was hearing about and working with the difficult elements of parenting in the community, and COVID increased that three-fold. I was constantly under the pump and feeling lower and lower.

“I knew I needed a change. I needed to start doing something positive, firstly to try and bring some joy to people in the community, and second, to support my own mental wellbeing.

“Ash and I saw Cheer Box as our way to achieve that.”

Cheer Box launched in December 2020, providing a range of sweet and savoury graze boxes and gifts to the broader Ballarat community. The idea stemmed from Ash and Scott’s love of good food and wine, and the importance of sharing happy moments with friends and family.

“If you think of your happiest times in the past, it’s likely been with friends, sipping on wine or grazing over a few snacks. Food brings people together, and it’s a time we feel content and fulfilled.

“With Cheer Box, we aimed to replicate that feeling and provide a sense of completeness. The food fills the stomach, and the parcel lets the recipient know that someone is thinking of them, that they are not alone, and that they matter.”

To the couple’s delight, the Ballarat community embraced the concept. The beautifully presented, gourmet grazing boxes have proved to be an incredibly popular option for birthday presents, anniversary celebrations, corporate gifts, and care packages.

While it is pleasing to see their new business thriving, the success of Cheer Box goes much deeper. For Scott and Ash, the joy is in achieving their goal to spread some cheer in what has become another challenging year.

“Lockdowns have amplified isolation. We can’t see our friends on their birthdays, or meet at cafés, or call around when you know someone is having a bad week. We’re feeling lost as to how to help each other when we are forced to stay apart.

“Cheer Box is about giving the community a vehicle to care for one another; to provide a way to help, give, share and lift up others. It’s about sending that message, ‘we’re thinking of you and you’re not alone.’”

Of course, Cheer Box is having a powerful impact on those receiving the parcels.

“We see such surprise on people’s faces when we make a delivery. We always talk about what someone did or how they reacted when they received a box, and we feel very fortunate to be a part of it.”

Supporting the community is a key component to all aspects of Cheer Box, with Scott and Ash sourcing as much local produce as they can to fill the boxes.

“We have some great relationships happening with other Ballarat businesses, such as Bake and Grind, Natures Cargo and Spring Hill Farm. We’ll even buy lemons to use as garnishes from neighbours if they have a supply.

“We’ve also been incredibly lucky in the support we’ve received from Ballarat businesses. We have some strong corporate advocates, such as an accounting firm and a real estate agency. Without them we couldn’t have grown the way we have. Ballarat has been fantastic in giving us a running start at a new business, and we’re humbled by it.”

With growth comes expansion. Since launching the business, Cheer Box has gone through changes and improvements, and Scott and Ash are on the verge of starting a second business – Ballarat Grazing Co.

“We pride ourselves on being responsive and listening to people, and one of the things that has come from the community is an overwhelming support to branch into tables and graze boards for corporate and private catering. We tried running tables out of Cheer Box, but it just didn’t match up with our goal for the brand, so we decided to start Ballarat Grazing Co.

“This business will focus on long tables of grazing favourites for weddings, family gatherings or corporate celebrations. We can’t wait to help brides and businesses wow their guests and enable people to connect over food.

“It’s been a really busy six months, and we’re excited for everything that’s happening and where the next 6 months will take us.”

While it appears that Scott has jumped from one busy workload to another, Cheer Box has provided a completely different environment, and a change he has relished.

“It’s been great to get off the hamster wheel and figure out what is going on in my life. I’m working more from home now, I’m around my children more, I’ve been able to address my mental health and get out of that negative cycle.

“I think a lot of people have used the imposed down time to do some assessment and make change. While there’s adversity in all of this, there are some positives too, and since I made the changes, I have been able to see a lot more positives around me. It’s been good to experience that.”

With the future looking bright for both business, Scott and Ash appreciate everything Ballarat has provided, and they are keen to keep giving back.

“We love working with people. We’re looking to hire more staff and that will continue as we grow. We want to work with other Ballarat graze companies too because it’s important for us all to support each other.

“We all have our own struggles, but we all do what we can to spread the good.

“You never know what kind of day someone has had, and what has happened to them to get to a point. We just hope people can keep being kind, stay safe, be happy and enjoy life where they can.”

The range of grazing box options can be viewed and ordered online or follow Cheer Box and Ballarat Grazing Co on Facebook and Instagram.

Cheer Box delivers within a 15 kilometre range of their base in Delacombe. Most dietary requirements can be catered to. For more delivery information, or details on the graze boxes, contact Scott and Ash at enquries@cheer-box.com.au or complete the form on the website.

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