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Why the Harry and Clare Friday Foundation matters to me

An interview with Chris Friday

Christine Friday and her father Harry Friday had a vision for the Harry and Clare Friday Foundation. Chris is very happy to see how the vision has come to life and is evolving to help meet the health and wellbeing needs of our local community.

Harry and Clare Friday were married in 1935 and began their married life in a house Harry built in Highett Street, Mansfield. During World War II they relocated to Melbourne where Harry worked at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and Clare was involved with charitable wartime services.

After the war they returned to the Friday Family property “Arcadia” in Friday’s Road, Barwite to assist Harry’s father Francis Friday in farming the property. When Francis died in 1947, the estate was later sold to Harry’s older brother Frank. In 1950 Harry built his home, also in Friday’s Road where he farmed for more than 20 years before retiring in Mansfield.

Clare Friday died in May 1994. Some years later, Harry gradually became less able and moved into Bindaree for the last 3 years of his life. It was there that he came up with the idea of a bequest that would honour the memory of his beloved Clare.

“Dad and I discussed what could be suitable and decided to set up a charitable fund that would benefit the whole Mansfield district, with a focus on Mansfield District Hospital. Preliminary planning with a legal firm in Mansfield began,” says Chris.

In the early days, the fund was set up with 5 trustees, including 2 members of the Mansfield District Hospital Board. The structure has now changed, with just 3 trustees: Christine Friday, Euan Friday and Diana Kilford, who was Chair of the hospital board when the Harry and Clare Friday Foundation started.

That’s not the only change; the Foundation has expanded its reach to encompass broader definition of organisations that support health and wellbeing in our district.

To apply for funding from the Harry and Clare Friday Foundation, an organisation must have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, be located in Mansfield Shire and provide health and wellbeing services.

“We’re a grass-roots organisation, yet we’ve been able to provide important funding to Mansfield District Hospital, Beolite, Rosehaven Hospice, Ambulance Victoria (Mansfield), Mansfield Autism Statewide Services and others,” says Chris.

She adds that the Foundation is also attracting significant donations and bequests. “For large bequests or small donations, the donor can nominate where they want their gift to be directed. People value that ability to choose and we take pride in respecting their wishes.”

Chris says she is proud to see how the Harry and Clare Friday Foundation continues to evolve, from small beginnings to now attracting larger bequests, alongside donations from individuals and through fundraising by other local organisations.

During their married life both Harry and Clare were very involved with the community and supported many organisations, including the Country Womens Association (CWA), Mansfield Higher Elementary School (as Mansfield Secondary College was then), St John’s Anglican Church and the Masonic Lodge.

“I’m proud of the fact that Dad had the idea, and that it has fulfilled the wish that he had, and that it’s honouring both he and Mum. The fact that the Foundation is solid, and receiving large bequests that will benefit our local community seems like a very fitting way for their contribution to be remembered and to continue long into the future.”