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Sunshine Coast couple leave a powerful legacy to QIMR

A Sunshine Coast hinterlands couple have left the bulk of their multi-million dollar estate to fund medical research into the causes and cures of cancer.

Today, Professor Michael Good, Director of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) announced a three year research programme with funding of $400,000 per annum from the Chenhall estate.

“The estate will help support a new Bioinformatics Unit at QIMR. This will ultimately bring QIMR researchers a step closer to understanding the underlying genetic causes of cancer. The unit will allow scientists to identify genes that are involved with a range of cancers and hopefully lead to potential targets for new diagnostics and treatments,” said Professor Good.

“With cancer affecting so many Australians – 1 in 3 Australian men and 1 in 4 Australian women before the age of 75 – the funding from this estate will improve the lives of so many.”

Mr William Chenhall was a successful business man who had a radio career in Hong Kong before settling in Noosa. Mrs Hilde Chenhall was a well known local artist who was very active in supporting local art groups. Wanting to leave a legacy, the couple had the foresight and vision to set up a trust to ensure their money would make a difference to the health of future generations.

Sadly, Mr Chenhall died of lung cancer in February 2005, and his beloved wife Hilde the year after, also from cancer. The William and Hilde Chenhall Research Trust has been established to fund medical research into the causes of cancer, with the ultimate aim being to find a cure.

Cooroy solicitor, Paul Bone, and Accountant, Peter Billinghurst, are the Trustees of the Research Trust. Mr Bone said of Mr and Mrs Chenhall, ”Both Bill and Hilde had seen the other suffer from this terrible disease, and were very clear in their intention to use their fortune to assist in the funding of leading edge research into cancer. I think Bill and Hild would be very pleased to see what their money is achieving with QIMR.”

Mr Bone said he hoped the announcement would encourage other people throughout Queensland to seriously consider a bequest of part of their estate to cancer research, and that all solicitors are quipped to advise on and make research bequests for clients.

“Being a not-for profit organisation QIMR relies heavily on the generosity of donors and bequests to support its research,” said Professor Good.

“The Chenhalls’ have displayed true community spirit but unfortunately constitute an exception rather than the norm for the wealthy in Australia. Hopefully their example will encourage others to support the great work of Australian medical researchers.”

“The couple knew all too well that you can’t put a price on your health and their legacy will ultimately benefit us all as the fruits of their generosity grow.”

Supporting medical research provides significant social returns, through increased life expectancy, better health and wellbeing, and greater research opportunities for our local scientists.

However, evidence suggests that Australia’s affluent are, on average, giving at a lower level than their counterparts in comparable countries such as the UK, Canada and the US, despite comparable wealth levels[1].

[1] Madden, K. and Scaife, W. (2008) Good Times and Philanthropy: Giving by Australia’s Affluent. CPNS Current Issues Information Sheet 20083