As Free Wills Month continues, here we find out about Dr Jane Hellman and the gift she left in her will to the University.
Dr Jane Hellman, a medical graduate of the University of Aberdeen, has left an extremely generous unrestricted gift in her will, trusting the University to use her gift wisely and with the greatest impact. According to her family’s wishes, it has now been decided that her generous legacy will be used to help establish new interdisciplinary research fellowships which will support the University’s Aberdeen 2040 strategic goals.
Vanessa Holmes, Legacy Giving Officer, supports people who are considering leaving a gift in their will and liaises with families or solicitors to ensure the person’s wishes are fulfilled. She says it’s always exciting when someone has decided to leave a gift in their will and communicates it to the University because we can take the opportunity to thank them. Vanessa also explains that a gift in your will “provides a gift of opportunity to make a real difference, is affordable to everyone in their lifetime, and is something that will have a great impact long after you are gone”.
Dr Jane Hellman, nee Caseley, enjoyed visiting campus, meeting with staff and students, and attending organ recitals and was well known to the University and the Development & Alumni Relations team. Despite being a medical graduate, she donated not only to the Medical School but to the Sir Duncan Rice Library, the Suttie Centre, and other causes during her lifetime. One donation of particular note was towards the Aubertin Organ Replacement Fund. Interestingly, the organ was built near the Jura River where her sister lived. This, as well as her father’s work as an organist, was what inspired her to donate to help purchase the Aubertin Organ.
Jane was born in 1931 in Singapore. She was raised partly by her grandparents and attended boarding school in Britain at an early age. Her parents continued living in Singapore until they escaped the Japanese occupation during World War II. Their perilous journey home took them first to Australia and New Zealand and then up the west coast of South America. Her father, John Caseley, was a civil engineer and assistant cathedral organist in Singapore. Her mother, Katherine Spence, who was also a medical student at the University of Aberdeen graduating in 1928, worked as a doctor and was co-opted into the Royal Army Medical Corps during the war. Jane followed in her parents’ footsteps in more ways than one - inheriting their love for exploring the world, she travelled extensively as a child, as well as an adult, and in 1956 she graduated in Medicine from the University of Aberdeen just like her mother.
After graduating, Jane worked all across the country. Her career began in Aberdeen and took her to Brighton, Loughborough, and London before she joined the Radcliffe and Churchill Hospital in Oxford in 1959. She then moved to the North London blood transfusion centre in Edgeware and married fellow doctor Professor Kurt Hellman in 1961.
In 2022, her surviving family were able to visit the University and see where Jane and her mother, Katherine, had studied their medical degrees. They enjoyed meeting with Principal George Boyne and other staff members who took time out of their day to show them the beautiful King’s College campus, including the Science Teaching Hub, a great example of interdisciplinarity in action. They heard the Aubertin organ being played by Head of Chaplaincy, Stuart Muir, bringing to life the sound of the organ and appreciating what Jane Hellman would have enjoyed on her visits to campus.
They spent the whole day being shown around as well as seeing old photos and student magazines that Andrew Macgregor, of Special Collections, had managed to locate in the archives. We were even able to locate the property that Katherine Spence had lived in whilst studying at the University.
The family said “It was truly a fantastic experience to walk in the footsteps of Jane and Katherine, to see some of the original buildings that would have been here when they were here, and to meet so many lovely people. We also heard about the interdisciplinary fellowships, gaining an understanding of what that really means and how the gift will make a difference.”
It is with help from donations and gifts such as this one that the University can make a real difference to the world around us.
“We all know how a pebble in the water has a ripple effect that has a widening impact, and this is what a legacy gift does, going on to make a difference well into the future. This impact is immeasurable.” Vanessa Holmes, Legacy Giving Officer.
If you are considering remembering the University in your will and would like to discuss your options, please contact Vanessa Holmes, Development Officer for Legacy Giving by email at email@example.com or telephone +44(0)1224 274132.