I CAME ACROSS THIS STORY ON ONE OF OUR UNASSUMING ELDERLY CITIZENS FROM 2018. THIS ARTICLE SAYS SHE LIVED A MODEST LIFE AND THE CHARITIES ARE OVERCOME BY HER BENEVOLENT GESTURE. THE HELICOPTER RESCUE SERVICE, WORLD VISION AND RSPCA WERE THREE OF THEM. SHE HAS BEEN SINGLE ALL HER LIFE AND LOVED GIVING TO CHARITIES - THANK YOU LETTERS WERE OFTEN SENT.
Woman Who Led Modest Life Stuns 15 Charities By Dividing Her $14 Million Estate Among Them
By Andy Corbley
In sunny New South Wales, Australia, Sheila Woodcock 87 passed away in May of 2018 fulfilled, having spent a private life enjoying travel, horticulture, chocolate, animal companionship, and acting.
Unmarried and without kids, Sheila had several close personal friendships throughout her long life. But however close they were, and however often they noticed handwritten thank you letters from various charities repeatedly arriving in Sheila’s mailbox, none of her friends or family members would have imagined she had amassed a $14 million estate by the time of her death.
Her second cousin Kent Woodcock knew she was well-off, but couldn’t believe the extent of her wealth. Kent was a dear friend and guardian to Sheila, and came into the responsibility of carrying out the savvy investor’s last will and testament—to grant the entire fortune to 15 Australian charities.
Speaking with the Newcastle Herald, Kent Woodcock, having invited representatives from the 15 charities to Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service facility, revealed the charity members were “gobsmacked” when they heard the news.
“She did not share her will with anybody—I only found out in the last six months,” said Kent.
Sheila left $1.375 million to the Helicopter Rescue Service, a gift which they said was “deeply humbling,” and that would be used to fund high-tech training equipment like a high fidelity winch simulator and live hoist training tower to practice retrieving souls from the ground while the helicopter is in flight.
A clear friend to the aviation/rescue industry, another $1.375 million went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the purchasing of a new plane engine and other essential pieces of equipment.
Having donated $200,000 to the RSPCA New South Wales throughout her lifetime, the animal rescue service found themselves on the receiving end of yet another $1.375 million, which will allow the organization to move their entire veterinary hospital to a brand new building.
“What a transformational community member—it blows me away,” said RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman.
One of the largest education-oriented charities in Australia, the Smith Family’s partnership received a $340,000 bequest in Shelia’s will which they called “transformative”. The money will go towards the Learning for Life program, the ARTcastle program, and to help children access educational opportunities they might not reach on their own by creating the Sheila Woodcock Memorial Scholarship.
Other recipients of the woman’s generosity and the amazing estate planning she went through cover the fields of health, humanity and discovery: The Scots Kirk Presbyterian Church Hamilton, The Salvation Army, Diabetes NSW, The Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and Guide Dogs Australia, all received $1.3 million.
Smaller sums were also given to Vision Australia, The Heart Foundation, Cancer Council, the Australian Red Cross, World Vision, and Breast Cancer Trials to fund dedicated research and the Sheila Woodcock Travel Grant to help young doctors attend Breast Cancer Trials’ Annual Scientific Meeting.
“I don’t think anybody [in Newcastle] has ever done something like this and I don’t know if we’ll ever see it again,” said second cousin Kent.
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