Diabetes has had a significant impact on Colin Smith’s life, which is one of the reasons he has chosen to support its management and cure both during his life and within his will.
Colin, tell us why you started your journey in philanthropy during your life?
My father was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was eight years old. He came back from World War 2 and one of the first signs we noticed was a terrible thirst. His life was impacted severely by the type 1 diabetes coupled with an intermittent pancreas. He would have to go through quite a rigmarole to test his diabetes, a process that was certainly more challenging back in the 1940s. If the insulin levels in his body fluctuated it would lead to an insulin reaction, which was quite frightening for a nine-year-old boy to witness. My father eventually passed away at the age of 62, his life cut short by his diabetes.
Later, my sister contracted diabetes during her first pregnancy. She, like Dad, passed away relatively early at the age of 65.
After my wife passed away, I redid my will with the help of Equity Trustees. The solicitor I spoke with raised the idea of giving during my life in addition to within my will. The solicitor said “you don’t have to wait to give” which really resonated with me and so I began my journey in giving during my life. It’s great to see my giving having an impact in the here and now.
It‘s clear that you’re passionate about the management and cure of diabetes. What sort of things do you support?
Currently, I support the provision of scholarships to the University of Melbourne PhD students studying in that area. The current recipient is doing some great work with the management of diabetes in an Indigenous community in the Shepparton (Victoria) area. The community are trialling a management technique that involves placing a disc on the skin of the upper arm then scanning the disc with a mobile phone. This is certainly an advancement on the management that my father had to do.
What do you imagine your philanthropy will look like after you’ve passed away?
Well, it will be much larger as my estate will fall into my current sub-fund, which Equity Trustees will continue to look after in perpetuity. I’d like my sub-fund to continue to provide support in the area of diabetes – however, as the funds grow, the cause areas may broaden beyond that. I’d still like to maintain a strong connection with the medical research arm of the University of Melbourne that I’ve partnered with.
When it’s all said and done, my philanthropy will not bring back my Dad. But if in the future it can benefit others, then it’s been a worthwhile success in my eyes.