Charitable chums: Doreen Smith (left) and Jill Crossley are good friends who are leaving gifts in their wills to The Smith Family. Picture: Supplied

Charitable chums: Doreen Smith (left) and Jill Crossley are good friends who are leaving gifts in their wills to The Smith Family. Picture: Supplied

Having the will to leave a lasting legacy

Having the will to leave a lasting legacy

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A growing number of Australians who are leaving gifts in their will to charity.

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This is sponsored content for Include a Charity and The Smith Family.

Good friends Doreen Smith and Jill Crossley have a lot in common: they both hail from farming families, share a love for the arts and live in the same retirement village in Kincumber, New South Wales.

And both are joining a growing number of Australians who are leaving gifts in their will to charity.

Their choice of The Smith Family, which helps disadvantaged children get the most out of their education, comes from personal experience.

"My father wanted to be a doctor, but never got the chance to have the necessary education. He had to leave school at the age of 14 to work on the family grazing property in Victoria," said Jill, 91, who also grew up on the land.

But Philip Henry Crossley didn't want his children to feel thwarted in their ambitions. He made it mandatory for them to finish school and pursue their passions. Jill followed her dream to become a photographer, first in commercial and PR photography, followed by many years in medical photography. Later, she had a freelance business photographing artworks and antiques.

Retired since 1990, she still follows her passion, photographing the bush. She currently has an exhibition of her bush photos on at Gosford Regional Gallery running to the 16th of September.

Doreen, 74, grew up in a farming family on New Zealand's South Island. She might have been a concert pianist, given she had considerable talent, but admits she was a "naughty student" who didn't work that hard at boarding school.

Ironically, the naughty girl became a nun who taught piano to disadvantaged children who came to the local convent.

Leaving religious life in 1981, Doreen came to Sydney and after a period of settling in applied and began her registered nurses' training at Canterbury Hospital, graduating in 1987. She had a wonderful time working in operating theatres in countries like Saudi Arabia, New Zealand and Australia.

"But I wasn't prepared for the outside world at all. Education gives you the knowledge to grow and give back to society. You're lost without it, and you miss out. My education was decidedly lopsided," said Doreen.

The Smith Family helps disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education, so they can create better futures for themselves.

The Smith Family helps disadvantaged Australian children get the most out of their education, so they can create better futures for themselves.

When the topic of wills came up recently, Jill and Doreen decided that when they pass on, they will leave a charitable gift to The Smith Family. Doreen likes to joke that with her last name, the charity is a natural fit.

But in all seriousness, the two friends appreciate how the charity's various learning and mentoring programs help disadvantaged children to fit in at school, keep up with their peers and build aspirations for a better future.

While Jill plans to remember her brother's children in her will, she said they are very well-established, career-wise, and had good educations. She would like a portion of her estate to go towards a bequest to The Smith Family that will be in memory of her father.

"I want to honour him by setting up a scholarship for Aboriginal children in Western Australia under the auspices of The Smith Family," she explained.

"Because I was a troublemaker at school who didn't get support when I needed it, I'm a big believer in early intervention to help kids get a good education and not slip through the cracks. The Smith Family is great at doing this kind of work which is why I want to support them for the future," added Doreen.

Doreen and Jill were discussing gifts in wills on the eve of Include a Charity Week (7-13 September), a social movement organised by Include a Charity, a group of charities and non-profit organisations which raises awareness about the importance of gifts in wills to the work of charities.

Helen Merrick, Include a Charity director, said it was heartening to see more people were beginning to think like Doreen and Jill when it came to charitable gifts.

"About 11 per cent of Australians now leave gifts in wills which is up from 7.4 per cent in 2016. But we think it could be higher," she said.

"Many people think you have to be wealthy to leave a gift, which couldn't be further from the truth. Any amount can help a charity do its work."

Charities behind the Include a Charity movement include The Smith Family, Australia for UNHCR, Australian Red Cross, Cabrini Foundation, Children's Leukaemia & Research Foundation, Guide Dogs, Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia, RSPCA Australia, The Northcott Society and Zoos Victoria.

And If you haven't written your will yet, now's a good time. Safewill, a highly rated online will-writing platform, is partnering with Include a Charity to provide 50 per cent off the price of writing a will during September.

Visit www.includeacharity.com.au to learn more about this offer, how to leave a gift in your will and more about Include a Charity's supporters.

To find out more about The Smith Family, visit www.thesmithfamily.com.au

This is sponsored content for Include a Charity and The Smith Family.

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