April 26 2021
By The Ian Potter Foundation
In August 2020, The Ian Potter Foundation was the beneficiary of a significant bequest from the estate of the late Margaret Caroline Reid. A high-quality share portfolio with a significant balance of accumulated franking credits will ultimately be worth more than $26 million to the Foundation.
A bequest of that size is the single biggest bequest ever received by the Foundation outside Sir Ian’s own contributions during his lifetime and then from Sir Ian’s estate in 1994. It seems appropriate to formally acknowledge this generous bequest and to also share with those interested a little about Margaret Reid – generous benefactor and philanthropist.
Margaret Wallace was born in 1935 and was the only child of John Wallace and Sue McKellar. She grew up on the family farm “Oomoo” at Derrinallum in Western Victoria but the homestead was burned out in the 1944 bushfires and only due to the swift and decisive actions of Margaret’s mother, was the family saved from real tragedy.
With typical diligence, determination and sheer hard work Margaret’s parents rebuilt their farm but in 1951 her father retired due to ill-health and they moved to the McKellar family property, “Kingston” near Ocean Grove.
Not long after the 1944 bushfires, Margaret was sent to boarding school at Toorak College in Mount Eliza at the tender age of 9. Her mother worried about the impact and trauma of the fires on her young daughter and thought a change of environment would be good for her.
At school, Margaret was a fine sportswoman and loved the outdoors. She was not especially fond of the classroom preferring the sports field and was elected Sports Captain in her final year at Toorak College in 1953. Margaret fell in love with golf at an early age and it became her passion. She was club champion at Royal Melbourne (nine times) and Barwon Heads as well as South Australian amateur golf champion. It was on the golf course that Margaret first met so many of her lifelong friends and she was passionate about the cause of women’s golf.
The land was very much in the Wallace family’s blood and they held also extensive grazing interests in the Riverina district, and this formed an important part of Margaret’s life for many years. She loved the Australian bush and travelling throughout the outback.
Margaret’s parents had a strong sense of community and helping those less fortunate. These are traits Margaret carried through her life and in gratitude for the significant contribution made to her family by both Geelong Grammar School and Toorak College, Margaret established generous scholarships to be awarded to students from less fortunate backgrounds. She was also a very generous contributor to many charities and community organisations during her lifetime.
Margaret took a keen interest in the stock market and the business world and managed her personal wealth with care. She was privately very proud that she was able to leave a substantial legacy to charity – something she and her mother and father had discussed many times.
Margaret chose The Ian Potter Foundation to be the principal beneficiary of her estate because of the Foundation’s strong track record in governance and financial management but also its continuing support to charities in areas that were very dear to her, including medical research, community well-being and the environment. Margaret felt that leaving a large legacy to a single beneficiary would help make a meaningful difference to the broader Australian community under the stewardship of The Ian Potter Foundation.
After Margaret’s passing, the executors of Margaret’s estate learnt of a proposal being considered by the Board of The Ian Potter Foundation, Watertrust Australia Limited. Focused on assisting current and future generations to sustainably manage Australia’s freshwater resources, the executors felt that Watertrust Australia Limited would be worthy of a significant contribution from the future funding capacity of the Margaret Reid “Kingston” bequest.
The executors included a ‘Statement of Wishes’ in correspondence with the Board of The Ian Potter Foundation, requesting that the Foundation consider committing $5 million over 10 years supporting Watertrust Australia Limited. Board members approved the executors' request and the “Kingston Bequest’ became a Major Funder of Watertrust Australia Limited.
The first of many worthwhile charitable organisations that will benefit from Margaret’s foresight and generosity.
Vale Margaret Caroline Reid (5 December 1935 – 11 May 2020)