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Legacy of a quiet achiever

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In the June 2003 edition of Great Scot (pages 48-49) we reported on the untimely death of Ian Roach (1938-43) and published an obituary which set out his extraordinary

Ian was an exemplar of the very best qualities of a Christian gentleman: kindness, respect, a keen sense of duty, and compassion. His life was characterised by self-effacement, humility and a wonderful sense of humour, and he was guided by a strong personal commitment to philanthropy.

He had a national perspective and was a strong supporter of Philanthropy Australia, on whose Council he served from 1991-1993. Ian's style was to use the 'soft power' of his own ability to influence the appeal of social, moral and cultural messages, and the relationships established through acts of generosity. The exercise of such soft power provides hope and healing, creativity and innovation. Such were the hallmarks of Ian Roach's life.

Ian was Chairman of the William Buckland Foundation from 1986 until his retirement in 2000. During that time, the capital of the Buckland Foundation grew from $16 million to $60 million, despite the requirement that all income be distributed. As well as engineering this enormous growth, Ian was personally involved at grass-roots level with a multitude of the projects which the Buckland Foundation supported. This reflected his unwavering belief in the importance of assisting as wide a range of people and causes as possible with the view of improving the lives of others. His determination to 'raise the horizons' applied not only to his public philanthropic activities, but also to his more private works.

In 1975, he persuaded his aunt, May del Cott, to bequeath funds from his beloved grandfather, Alexander Wright Wales, which would have been left to him and his brother Neil (1940-46), to set up the Alexander Wright Wales Trust. This Trust provides full scholarships for talented children whose parents lack the means to pay the fees to attend Scotch College and Presbyterian Ladies College. Ian was Chair of the Trust until his retirement in November 2002. In managing the Trust, Ian further developed his genuine philanthropic philosophy that money could be used to achieve positive social change for the betterment of society as a whole. Since 1975 the Trust has awarded 108 full scholarships, an extraordinary number, and the Trust will continue to provide that assistance into the distant future.

Ian was also known for his many acts of very private philanthropy in which he helped individuals and families in need at a particular time. He found great pleasure in giving and his generosity was unconditional. Such was the quiet way in which he went about his business that few people ever knew the full extent of his generosity. Throughout these private works and his redoubtable public career, Ian Roach maintained the respect of others through his reputation for integrity, impartiality, professionalism and common sense. He was always supported by his wife Judy, and children Richard (1967-76) and Sally and it is their family commitment to philanthropy which now extends Ian's philosophy and which has led to a truly wonderful gift to Scotch College.

Judy Roach (pictured with the 1983 Karl Grimm portrait of Ian) and the other executors of Ian's estate have pledged one million dollars to Scotch to assist with the completion of the James Forbes Academy. This extraordinary gift matches the initial benefaction from Richard and Jeanne Pratt, and sets a fine seal on the value and importance of this project. While Ian Roach's philanthropy was rarely directed towards bricks and mortar, this gift reflects his belief in the ways that young people can be influenced and empowered by art and culture. The benefits to students will be immense, and through their exposure to such philanthropic generosity, perhaps they, too, will respond to Ian's desire to 'raise the horizons' of experience and duty. In recognition of this act of philanthropy, the School Council has decided to name the new music hall in the James Forbes Academy the Ian Roach Auditorium.

The impact of the James Forbes Academy in its entirety on the physical, educational and cultural well-being of all at Scotch will be incalculable. And that impact will be here for generations to come. Ian Roach was one of the most respected national figures in the stockbroking industry. He will now be similarly commemorated at Scotch College. What more fitting tribute and legacy can there be for this remarkable 'quiet achiever' and his family.

Alan Watkinson
Director of Development

Updated: Monday 24 June 2013