When giving is in your blood

Ernest Bickford – Ern to his friends – turns 90 in March. He’s fit and healthy and despite having had three knee and one hip replacement surgeries, he still loves doing small building jobs to help friends. A dab hand in the kitchen, every Saturday night he invites his 60-year-old nephew over for a home-cooked meal – then sends him on his way with a couple more for the week – and two cakes!

Ern says a healthy lifestyle combined with physical work as a builder is why he’s active and enjoying a good quality of life today. He’s yet to prove it, but thinks making regular blood donations might also have played a part.

Ern made 600 continuous blood donations before being compulsory retired at 81 years. He misses giving blood – the camaraderie, conversation, contribution and comfort. This selfless act was central to his very being from 19 years of age. He first went with his Dad in the days when donors lay on stretchers on the floor and nurses agitated the collection bottles by hand. For the next 62 years every two weeks he gave two hours of his time, but gifted so very much more to many hundreds.

Ern says he’s had a good life – much, but not enough, of which was shared with his late wife by his side.

His commitment is clearly evident but even more so when he emotionally reads a heartfelt message within a beautifully handmade, heart-shaped card made by a young cancer patient he met recently.

“Their stories break my heart; their resilience is as remarkable as it is outstanding.”

Ern lost his wife Mary to cancer, and through her 20 year cancer journey he witnessed her incredible resilience also. She continued to astonish her doctors and she never complained. Ern knows intimately the complexities and costs of ensuring ready access to a diverse range of patient services within the community. He is genuinely moved to ensure that everything possible is done to help sick kids, especially those who rely on Bear Cottage for respite or end-of-life care. It is his personal appreciation of the sensitive and compassionate nature that palliative care teams have that contributed deeply to his decision to also gift a portion of his estate to Bear Cottage, amongst other charities.

“What I give is so little but if it can make a difference, I’m very happy to help.”

A long-time supporter of Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Ern has included a gift to both in his Will.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation is honoured to be included as one of the charities Ern has mentioned in his Will. To us, Ern has a huge heart of gold and we cannot thank him enough.

Thanks to generous people like Ern who make their wishes clear, Foundations like ours can continue to deliver vital services when and where they are needed the most. We welcome conversations about your intentions so we can maximise your legacy and celebrate your commitment and heartfelt wishes.

If you would like more information about the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation bequest program, please contact our Bequest Manager, Anne McFadden on 1800 770 122 or bequests@schf.org.au

Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation raises funds for Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick , The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Bear Cottage, the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS NSW) and Kids Research