Talented musician leaves gift of hope

Janette Hamilton

Janette, or Jan, as she was affectionately known to her friends, was a musical prodigy who, at the age of eight was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘a pianist so short that her feet cannot touch the pedals (who nonetheless) outshone pianists of all ages in the Bach pianoforte championship at the City of Sydney Eisteddfod’.

By the age of 19, the young musician had won a string of classical piano competitions and national piano prizes and had appeared as a soloist in ABC concerts. She went on to perform in chamber music concerts with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and later channeled her prodigious musical skills into teaching young musicians.

Sadly, Jan’s musical career was cut short in 1981 when an horrific motor vehicle accident nearly took her life. After being hit by a drunk driver, Jan sustained such severe multiple injuries that she was pronounced dead on arrival at the Royal North Shore Hospital. Although hospital staff were able to revive her, she tragically lost a leg as a result of the accident and remained wheelchair bound and in constant pain for the rest of her life.

Those who knew Jan say that she faced life after her accident with the same resoluteness and self-discipline she used to become a concert pianist.

Unable to play her beloved piano, but determined to live the best way she could for whatever time she had left, Jan mentored private students and rarely missed a Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert. While music remained the focus of her life, this period witnessed Jan’s growing interest in philanthropy. She supported an array of causes which moved or interested her, and was a regular donor to many charities, including Heart Research Australia.

Jan’s passion for philanthropy was informed by her faith and her strong desire to give back, says her cousin, Cheryl Akhurst. “Even though her career was cut short by her accident and she lived in constant pain, Jan still felt that she had lived a blessed life,” Cheryl explains.

When the time came for Jan to make her Will, she chose to use it as a lasting expression of her philanthropic interests. After making sure that her loved ones were looked after, she divided the remainder of her estate between ten organisations she believed were doing important work for her community and for all Australians. Heart Research Australia was privileged to be one of them.

“We were deeply honoured to learn that Heart Research Australia had been remembered in the Will of our long-term supporter, Janette Hamilton,” said Heart Research Australia CEO, Nicci Dent. “Janette had a truly remarkable life and we are humbled that she put her trust in us to ensure her generosity and compassion would live on.”

More than a quarter of Heart Research Australia’s research is funded by gifts both large and small that have been left to us in Wills.

“I can’t overstate how important gifts like Jan’s are to us,” Nicci explains. “They allow the kind of long-term planning that is so necessary in medical research where breakthroughs can take years to achieve.”

If you are considering leaving a gift to Heart Research Australia in your Will, our Philanthropy Manager Diane Van De Merwe would be happy to discuss this important decision in confidence. You can contact Diane on (02) 9436 0056 or by emailing bequests@heartresearch.com.au