One small fund that honours an Australian soldier continues to make a difference more than a century after it was established.
More than 100 years ago, a young Australian, Stanley Vincent Heath, was killed on the battlefield during World War I.
But his name still lives on thanks to his father’s decision to create a perpetual charitable fund in his honour that continues to help local Victorian charities and organisations.
The Stanley Heath Fund was created in 1921 at the bequest of Stanley’s father, William, who pledged his son’s share of his estate to the fund.
While it is relatively modest in size, it is no less important than any of the trusts managed by Equity Trustees, which was appointed co-trustee by William to ensure his wishes were carried out.
The fund distributed just £200 in 1934 – the recipients were reported in Melbourne’s Argus newspaper – while annual distributions have grown to about $4000 today.
The Stanley Heath Fund remains a fitting recognition of Stanley’s service to his country, as well as his family’s love for their son.
Stanley served in the 39th Infantry Battalion Australian Imperial Force and died aged just 29 while volunteering as a stretcher bearer on October 12, 1917, at Passchendaele, Belgium. He begged his superior to allow him to carry wounded back to safety and died while carrying a wounded man back under heavy shelling, according to witness reports.
“He was one of the best and a chap I thought a lot of,” another witness said in a statement.
The Stanley Heath Fund today distributes money to a range of Victorian charities and organisations such as the Western District Health Service (which was then known as the Hamilton Hospital), ensuring Stanley’s legacy lives on.
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