Reflections on a family legacy of giving as new scholarship is established

Dr Jo Baulderstone has helped establish a new nursing scholarship at Flinders.

“Giving was just one of those things that I assumed everyone did.”

It’s 2.30pm on a sunny Friday afternoon at Flinders University’s Victoria Square building and Associate Professor Jo Baulderstone is talking about the establishment of the new Carmel Baulderstone Memorial Scholarship to help nurses study in rural South Australia.

The scholarship, which is being awarded this year for the first time, is intended to ease financial pressure on nursing students undertaking remote or rural placements.

Dr Baulderstone smiles as she describes a culture of giving in the Baulderstone family which extends to her siblings, mother, father – and even back to her grandmother.

“For me, it’s that sense that if you’ve been fortunate and had a good education, you should give back. It just seems like the right thing to do,” she said.

“My grandmother did a lot of voluntary work through her 70s and 80s, and both mum and dad were people who did a lot of low key charity work.”

Dr Baulderstone explained that Bert Baulderstone, who established the Baulderstone construction company in Adelaide in 1946, was a regular giver; although his family didn’t realise the full extent of his contributions until after his death in 1974.

“We didn’t know about much of what dad did until after he died,” she said. “I was just 16 at the time, but I remember that we received lots of letters from people who he had helped.”

“He was one of six boys and all of them left school at minimum leaving age,” Dr Baulderstone said. “He won a bursary to go on and study but his dad didn’t let him take it up.

“Instead, he went to work as a brick layer – but he kept studying in his spare time and believed strongly in education.”

That belief was something he shared with his wife, Carmel, who enjoyed a successful career as a nurse and went on to establish a charitable Estate after his death.

“Mum and dad both really valued education,” Dr Baulderstone said. “I think they assumed that we would all go to university, and this was very important to them.

“Mum set up the Bert & Carmel Baulderstone Charitable Trust after dad died to give some structure to the family’s charitable donations. Because she was a nurse, she gave a lot of money to medical research, but she supported other charities too, and the Trust continues to do this.”

It was after Mrs Baulderstone’s death in 2011 that Dr Baulderstone became a trustee.

Dr Baulderstone smiles again as she describes how the trustees developed the idea for a special scholarship that would reflect her mother’s background and beliefs.

“In the past, mum had supported a range of scholarships and had that great belief in education, so we knew she would approve of a scholarship,” she said.

“We chose a nursing scholarship that would support nursing students doing their placements in rural areas because she spent a lot of time working as a midwife in the country.

“That was back in the 1950s, when wealthier families would hire a private midwife to look after new mothers and their babies at home.”

Dr Baulderstone, who sits on the boards of several charities, said it also reflects her own experience.

“I know from teaching at Flinders that most students these days have to work to support themselves and that because of this they can encounter financial difficulties when they aren’t able to work during their placements,” she said.

“This is particularly true if they have to go to rural areas, so we wanted to establish a scholarship that would enable them to do their placement without having to worry.”

The scholarship will provide a contribution towards a living allowance and travel costs and be offered to up to four students annually to a combined total value of $5000.

Dr Baulderstone said she believes her mother and father would especially approve of it being established at Flinders because of its history of providing educational opportunities across all social and class boundaries.

“Even if one of the other universities in South Australia was offering exactly the same course, we would still have chosen Flinders University because of its history of breaking down barriers to education,” she said.

“This is an ethos that I know my parents agreed with, so for that reason it’s important that the scholarship is at Flinders.”

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