For the founder of the Cowled Foundation, there is “no time to muck about”. She wants to see the fruits of her gifts while she’s still around.

Laurie Cowled is no stranger to honours.

Since establishing the Cowled Foundation in 2007, the Queenslander has become a regular name on community and philanthropy awards lists.

Most recently, she was the recipient of an honourary doctorate from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), an institution to which she has gifted nearly $1.5 million.

“It’s become my addiction,” Cowled says of her giving. “To give even a small amount to help the education of children is a very satisfying thing for anyone to do.”

Having grown up on a sheep farm near Bethungra in New South Wales through the Depression years, Cowled started her long banking and finance career at age 16, when she scored her first job in the local branch of the Commonwealth Bank.

When her husband, N.K. (Ron) Macnamara, died in 2005, she made philanthropy her new career.

“We had no children,” she says. “We’d decided long before that our estate would finally be given to charity. There was no time to muck about; I had to have a new will immediately.”

“I could have left everything to various charities and let it all happen after I died, but I wanted to watch young country women reach their full potential while I was still here.

Generosity-Laurie-Cowled-QUT Business

Celebrating the Inaugural Laurie Cowled Scholarship for Women in Leadership, QUT Business School

“Heck, I was 75 then, so there was no time to lose.”

The aim of the Cowled Foundation is to assist with the education of gifted, underprivileged, rural or regional girls or young women who will make an outstanding difference to the future of Australia.

Since its inception the Foundation has established scholarships across a range of institutions, including QUT, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the Prince of Wales Medical Research Institute (now NeuRA), the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), and The Australian Ballet School. The Foundation also contributes significantly to the Cootamundra and District Country Education Fund.

“As a country child I wanted to be a ballerina, an artist and an actor,” Cowled said in 2010 of her motivations for giving. “No one in Bethungra could help me reach these goals, so my efforts now are devoted to helping other country girls reach their goals, whatever those goals may be.”

///Photography courtesy of QUT///

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