Few Australians have contributed so much across so many diverse fields as Sir Andrew Grimwade, who recently passed away at 92 years of age.
Sir Andrew was chairperson of the Alfred Felton Bequest – one of Victoria’s oldest and largest philanthropic trusts – but his influence extended deep into the business, science, and arts sectors.
He trained as a chemical engineer and scientist, and became a cattle breeder with the Green Valley Cattle Company, and later helped develop export markets for Australian branded beef.
He held many company directorships during his business career including at National Australia Bank, IBM, and Sony, and served on several committees including as chairperson of the Australian Government’s Official Establishments Trust and deputy chairperson of its Australiana Fund. He served as Honorary President of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research for 15 years.
He was also a Trustee, and later President, of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), which led to his initial appointment to the Alfred Felton Bequests’ Committee in 1973. It was the beginning of a 50-year relationship with the Bequest, which splits its support between the NGV and charities focused on helping women and children. The Bequest has gifted artworks to the NGV valued at $2.8 billion over the years.
The seeds of Sir Andrew’s vast charitable contribution were planted more than a century ago when Alfred Felton joined forces with Sir Andrew’s great grandfather, Frederick Grimwade. They became lifelong friends as they built the Victorian pharmaceutical and chemical company Felton Grimwade and Company.
In his will, Felton specified that one of the Trustees of his Bequest Committee should also be a member of the Grimwade family. Sir Andrew was appointed chairperson of the Felton Bequest, which is managed by Equity Trustees, in 2004.
His book, Storied windows: an anthology of speeches, poems and reflections: casting light on the arts, science and life in Australia, reveals a love of ancient Greek history and the lessons their wisdom still imparts today. He had a sense of humour, often exhibited through a wry limerick, and was generous in his praise of colleagues and passionate about the causes they supported. He was an extraordinary networker who brought people together.
When he retired to Mansfield in North-east Victoria around 2006, he founded the charitable not-for-profit Beolite Retirement Village to help avert a growing housing crisis for older Australians. His social conscience led him to call for a change of government ahead of the 2007 Federal Election after he grew disenchanted with the lack of support for Australia’s ageing population.
He continued serving as chairperson of the Beolite Retirement Village board until last year and continued his philanthropic support for the local community.
You can read more here about Sir Andrew, the Felton Bequest and the NGV.
Read Equity Trustees earlier tribute to Sir Andrew Grimwade here
Photo - Sir Andrew Grimwade attending Equity Trustees 2019 Philanthropy Giving Review launch - Hotel Esplanade.
Photo - Sir Andrew Grimwade presenting Mass 2017 by Ron Mueck to the NGV - 2017 NGV Triennial.