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How a $13,000 gift in 1968 is still helping Yooralla today

Generosity in Perpetuity – Katherine Farnsworth Legh-Cavendish Trust and Yooralla

Leaving a bequest is a meaningful way to create your legacy. Establishing a private charitable trust with a bequest enables you to make a lasting impact by leaving a gift in perpetuity to a charity you are most passionate about. In 1968, a bequest was made by the late Katherine Farnsworth Legh-Cavendish, who cared passionately for the welfare of children with disabilities. In her last Will and Testament, an allocation of the estate was bestowed to the Yooralla Hospital for Crippled Children in Carlton, to be used entirely for children and their needs.

Yooralla was first established in 1918 by Miss Evangeline Ireland (Sister Faith) after discovering a young child with disability penned inside a chicken coop whilst her parents were at work. Unable to access welfare or support services, and during a time when the Education Department did not cater for children with disabilities, Miss Ireland was inspired to begin a free kindergarten in inner-suburban Melbourne. The kindergarten was named ‘Yooralla’ – an aboriginal word meaning ‘place of love’, and this establishment would provide the care and education needed for these children.

Throughout the years, Yooralla has undergone many changes. As an organisation Yooralla proudly supports adults as well as children and has expanded their services to include employment, education and training.

Today, Yooralla is one of the largest and oldest not-for-profits disability service providers in Victoria, and over the past century has evolved and developed along with the disability sector. Much like the distributions from the Katherine Farnsworth Legh-Cavendish trust.

For over 50 years, the Katherine Farnsworth Legh-Cavendish Trust has made annual distributions to Yooralla for the benefit of children. Over the decades, the funding has been utilised in various ways to honour Katherine’s legacy, including annual Christmas parties and presents, artwork for children’s classrooms and funding to improve the health of those in need.

Currently, Yooralla are applying the funds from the Trust to build and develop literacy skills for children with disabilities. Vouchers are provided to children mid-year allowing them to pick and choose a book, puzzle or other item of interest available in bookshops. This initiative provides children with the opportunity to select an item of their choosing, and emphasises the ‘ability’ in ‘disability’.

Parents and children are thankful for the book vouchers provided by Yooralla, and the appreciation continues to be expressed during the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reading is hard work for him but being read to is something he gets a lot of joy from. I’m hoping that knowing he’s the one with the book voucher and therefore choice of books may be a balance of both being read to and being willing to learn how to master the skill himself. It’s an opportunity for him to want to give it a go while also giving us some nice time to explore a new book together”.

“Especially during these lockdown times when we are unable to get to the library, this book voucher and the chance for our kids to choose, makes it even more special. This is such a great initiative, thank you!”

Since its inception, the total value of the trust’s funds have greatly exceeded the initial gift of $13,000. With distributions made to Yooralla every year for the past 52 years, the trust has already granted more than a quarter of a million dollars, and will continue to do so in perpetuity.

The Katherine Farnsworth Legh-Cavendish Trust is a perfect example of how a bequest can transform the lives of others. From Katherine’s generosity, Yooralla can continue to provide support and independence to those most worthy. This is Katherine’s legacy.

To learn how to leave a lasting legacy or to know more about charitable giving please call 03 9667 6740 or email

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