Margarete and Len Ainsworth honoured at Research Australia’s 12th annual awards dinner

The Macquarie Group Foundation Great Australian Philanthropy Award has been awarded to Mrs Margarete Ainsworth and Mr Len Ainsworth in recognition of their contributions to advancing medical science.

Mrs Ainsworth was honoured for her substantial gift to NeuRA that allowed the continuation of the fit-out of a new state-of-the-art medical research facility, and Mr Ainsworth for his ongoing support of the Sydney Children’s Hospital, in particular the recently completed new Clinical Services Building.

The Research Australia Awards celebrate the influence of 10 leaders who have continuously made invaluable contributions to Australia’s health and medical research, be it through research and discovery, advocacy or generous philanthropic donations that make innovation possible.

The recent opening of NeuRA’s Margarete Ainsworth building marked the realisation of a grand vision and a milestone in Australian philanthropy.

Mrs Ainsworth’s donation was heralded as one of the most significant individual gifts given by a female in Australian history.

“I have always felt for those families living with mental illness, as it is so devastating,” Mrs Ainsworth says.

“Compassion for people who have not been as lucky as I have been has given me inspiration to give.” Mrs Ainsworth’s philanthropic philosophy is simple: Give to what you feel passionate about.

“I find it mentally very rewarding, especially when there is a light on the horizon.”

A long-time supporter of mental health research, she says she was motivated in her generosity by two simple factors: “A desperate need for research, and a confidence in NeuRA.”

Executive Director at NeuRA, Professor Peter Schofield, said the award honouring Margarete was fitting, given her on-going generosity.

“In a way, the building did the asking,” Schofield says. Over a number of visits to the work site, Mrs Ainsworth – clad in hard-hat and construction vest – watched the facility and floors grow around her.

Schofield describes Mrs Ainsworth’s philanthropy as “humbling” and hopes that it will encourage other women to be equally visible in supporting the causes that matter to them.

“Margarete’s gift is not just to NeuRA, and Len’s not just to the Sydney Children’s Hospital – they are a national legacy and one that we are proud to see recognised. We acknowledge and celebrate these two Great Australian Philanthropists.”

Generosity is a theme that runs in the Ainsworth family. In 2013 Mr Ainsworth donated $5 million to Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation, in support of a new Clinical Services Building.

The state-of-the-art facility, named the Ainsworth Building, heralded a new era of healthcare for seriously ill and injured children across NSW and beyond. It opened in 2013 and includes a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, an eight-bed Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit, a 28-bed short-stay Surgical Unit, a new Lung Function Testing Facility for infants, a Family Centre for parents and carers, and a new, more private, location for the important Child Protection Unit.

Mr Ainsworth’s support of the Hospital has spanned more than 17 years, commencing with a $1.5 million donation to fund the construction of the current Sydney Children’s Hospital building in 1996.

“There is nothing more heartbreaking for a parent than to find a child, particularly a newborn, with some problem they are destined to carry for the rest of their life. For that, amongst other challenges, I am delighted to be able to help the hospital where I can,” Mr Ainsworth said.

Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO Leanne Warner said Mr Len Ainsworth’s commitment to making a difference was truly inspiring.

“The generosity of Mr Len Ainsworth means the sick and injured children of NSW will receive the very best of care and we are incredibly grateful for all of his support.”