Meet our Supporters
Meet some of those very special people who have chosen to include a gift in their will.
Mary Littman - It was an easy decision
Mary Littmann’s connection to St Vincent’s began when her father received treatment for a heart attack, when she was just 13.
Despite being one of the first recipients of a double by-pass at St Vincent’s, Mary’s father unfortunately continued to experience ill health. He sadly passed away in 1973 after suffering a series of strokes. Mary was grateful for the care her father received.
Nine years ago, Mary also needed St Vincent’s. She says, “I had synovial sarcoma cancer in my left hand where the wrist joins the arm. I had an operation at St Vincent’s and I continue to see the radiology oncologist every year.”
Mary decided to make her Will just after she was diagnosed with the cancer.
“I looked after my family first, and then I decided I would leave some money to charity.
“It was an easy decision to include St Vincent's in my Will because they have always been there for my family and for me when I needed them,” Mary said.
Image: Mary Littmann with her brother Paul
Ben and Joan Slater – Continuing the tradition
Joan and Ben Slater have a long history with St Vincent’s Hospital, which began when Joan’s parents were both patients. Joan’s father, Adie, had open heart surgery in 1977, when the risks were high. He recovered well and became a great advocate for the Hospital where he was heavily involved with the Heart Beat group. He was a regular visitor to the wards chatting with patients after their surgery.
Joan and Ben continued her father’s work with the group, having seen firsthand the improvements which can be implemented with extra funds. “When we were thinking about the future it seemed natural to honour mum and dad with a gift to the Hospital which had played a large part in their lives, to the end,” Joan said. The family appreciated the excellent medical attention but felt there was always “something extra” in the care for Joan’s parents.
A gift in their Will is both a special thank you for the wonderful care delivered with warmth and humour, and an opportunity to continue improvements of equipment making the lives of patients and staff easier.
As Ben and Joan don’t have any children, their gift will be given to the Cardiothoracic Department. “Knowing that the money shall help improve care for patients like dad with new equipment or research is very comforting.”
Glen Arbuckle – Lasting impact on a young life
Glen first came to St Vincent’s Hospital with Rheumatoid Arthritis when he was just five years old. Glen’s care continued even after the paediatric ward closed.
Over the years he has come to know many staff members; doctors, nurses and cleaners who have become like family for Glen, sharing jokes and camaraderie.
“My care has gone beyond courtesy, I really value the kindness, dignity and respect that I’m always given.”
Being in hospital has provided Glen the opportunity to see the needs of both patients and staff for equipment and to be continually improved and replaced.
Glen has given to appeals over the years but he realised the biggest impact he would have is via a gift in his Will. This will not affect his lifestyle now, and shall provide benefits for many in future.
At first, considering his Will and options at a young age made Glen felt uncomfortable. After discussing his decision with his family, Glen felt confident that he had made the right choice.
Cheryl Power – A constant quality of care
Cheryl’s first introduction to St Vincent’s Hospital was through her profession. She is a senior lecturer and teaching specialist of the Microbiology and Immunology Department at the University of Melbourne as a microbiologist.
St Vincent’s hosted scientific evenings at the Australian Society of Microbiology. Cheryl says “St Vincent’s had wonderful lab which they retained when many hospitals lost theirs. The case studies discussed were always interesting.”
These meetings gave Cheryl valuable insights into the hospital ethos and high standards. Cheryl has attended St Vincent’s Hospital for her own medical care and with her family for many years. During that time, she has always felt that the care was excellent. When considering options for her Will she gave it careful thought.
One of Cheryl’s motivations for including St Vincent’s in her Will is being grateful for her exceptional care. The second motivating factor was a close alignment of her personal values and those practised by St Vincent’s; caring for everyone with the greatest respect.
“I am very grateful for the wonderful care I have received. In a fast-changing world I really want the quality of care to remain a constant,” Cheryl said. Cheryl also hopes the quality of care will continue for herself, her family, grandchildren and others.
“Many people expect to be able to buy medical care, which they can, but it frequently misses that vital element of personal care. I really value the holistic focus given to each patient. St Vincent’s is a remarkable hospital.”
Cheryl says the Hospital aligns with her values, providing everyone justice and compassion with integrity while delivering excellent care. Cheryl understands that priorities change; she trusts the Board to spend the money wisely for the most urgent need. Cheryl has chosen to provide for a percentage gift in her Will, which is the easiest way to achieve her goals – caring for her children and supporting St Vincent’s into the future with a gift that maintains its value over time.
Denise A’Hearn – A wonderful way to say thank you
Denise’s life changed dramatically in 2000, when she visited her local doctor with blurred vision and a strong pain that felt like ‘a sharp knife’ in the base of her skull. Denise was diagnosed with a slow bleeding aneurysm and was transferred immediately to St Vincent’s.
The primary school teacher spent 11 days in hospital, with six months of double vision and a long time attending outpatient clinics. With determination Denise has recovered and created a new life. “While I was pleased with my recovery, I didn’t feel it would be possible to return to the class room,” Denise explains. “As a parting gesture to the children I taught I wanted to highlight the importance of saying thank you.”
Denise sold her precious collection of children’s books cheaply and donated the funds to St Vincent’s. Later, she learned of including a gift in her Will - a wonderful way to say thank you.
She is pleased to be able to give back for the fantastic care she received through her stay and subsequent recovery.
“The staff always had time to care and listen even when they were really busy, I never felt rushed.”
Denise admits she is lucky to be alive. She is also appreciative of her family and friends who gave her support in the early phase. Now she is returning the care to her family, including her brother, who received a liver transplant, and her mother, who is now in her mid-80s and needs extra support.
James Henshall - It's a hand up
James Henshall has a long history of excellent care and that’s why he loves St Vincent’s.
After being diagnosed in 2002 with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, James spent the next eight years receiving care from the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic (IBD) at St Vincent’s.
“The IBD team and all nurses were wonderful. During my entire care, which included many overnight hospital stays, the team was always very observant, caring and responsive to my needs.
I was always impressed by the way I was easily sent to by different areas of the hospital for diagnostic testing, imaging and treatment. It was like a racing car pulling into the pit stop – my needs were seen to and the system worked smoothly and seamlessly,” James said.
As James had multiple health issues, it took years to get his conditions under control. As well as Ulcerative Colitis, James also had a heart problem that required surgery.
Apart from ongoing medication, James is happy to report that he now lives a relatively normal life.
“I exercise regularly, eat and sleep well. The dieticians and nutritionists at the IBD Clinic were really helpful with information on what to eat and what to avoid to keep my Ulcerative Colitis under control.”
“I soon knew the clinical pathways of the hospital very well and how much St Vincent’s supported me. I believe we should always give back to society for what we’ve been positively given,” James said.
He was quick to dispel the myth that you have to be wealthy to leave a Gift in your Will. He believes the best way to give thanks for the great care he has received was to leave a Gift in his Will.
“You don’t need to be wealthy, just contribute what you’re capable of giving. It is our responsibility as individuals to take care of our health and each other. Even so, the state supported me immensely well during my long period of acute ill-health.
In the light of this, it’s our obvious moral duty to give back for the good of the public. It’s not a handout, it’s a hand up,” James said.
In 2019, James returned from Indonesia where he lived for two years as a volunteer under the Australian government’s international aid program, working in tobacco control policy and advocacy.
Image: James at a warung (small café) in Indonesia.