A life of giving

A life of giving
Posted on Wed 27 Jan 2021

Towards the end of last year, we farewelled one of our most loyal and loved supporters, Renate Cowan. At the age of 97, she slipped gently from this earth, after a rich and full life devoted to her family, giving, caring and loving. 

Renate was born in Berlin on 22 September 1923, the younger of two daughters. She had a beautiful childhood. Sadly, her Jewish family was scattered and ultimately destroyed during the turmoil of the 1930s and early 1940s. 

In 1938, Renate was able to get a visa to go to England and join her uncle and his family living in London.  

Renate trained and worked as a nurse during the war and then specialised first in infectious diseases and later midwifery in London and Sheffield.  

She was working as a senior midwife in Sheffield when she married her beloved Jack in 1952.  

The following year, they set sail for Australia. Jack and Renate were anxious to begin their family and soon after their arrival in Sydney, they were blessed to welcome their daughters Judith and Kitty into the world.  

When her second daughter, Kitty was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Renate focused her attention on giving her daughter all the opportunities in life she could.

She realised that there were many people like Kitty, so she worked in all areas to assist what was then The Spastic Centre (now Cerebral Palsy Alliance).  

She was a fierce advocate for people with disabilities, calling politicians to demand equal access, disabled bathroom facilities, and education and care opportunities.  

Renate also saw financial need and was tireless in her fundraising efforts over decades.  She ran book fairs, street stalls, wine tastings, progressive dinners, golf days, and luncheons. She made marmalade and jam and donated all the proceeds to help Cerebral Palsy Alliance. 

The final fundraising effort was to include a gift in her Will to Cerebral Palsy Alliance to ensure that our research into new therapies, technologies, treatments and even perhaps a cure for cerebral palsy would continue into the future. 

As Jewish philosopher and Rabbi Bahya Ibn Pakuda said, “Our days are like scrolls, write upon them what you want remembered.”

The scroll of Renate’s life is long and filled with memories of a woman who was devoted to her family, gave always from the heart, was a passionate advocate for the rights of others and generous to all she encountered. 


What will be written on your scroll of life?

If you would like to know more about how a gift in your Will could transform the lives of children and adults with cerebral palsy, please contact our Fundraising Relationship Manager, Carol O’Carroll on 02 99975 8955 or carol.ocarroll@cerebralpalsy.org.au

It’s Dogtober! October is officially the month dedicated to raising awareness of Assistance Dogs in Australia. To celebrate, we spoke to Paralympic gold medallist Amanda Reid about her experience as someone living with cerebral palsy and how her Assistance Dog has had a major positive impact on her wellbeing.

A cerebral (palsy) conversation with filmmaker, actor, advocate and CPA client, Emily Dash