A son's dream and a mother's love

Date published

13 Jan 2020

Every year, many of our kind and generous supporters make the decision to include a gift in their Will to the Flying Doctor. For some, it’s a way to show their appreciation for a service that has kept their community safe.

For others it’s a way to honour the life of someone they love.

When Jennifer Sibthorpe included a gift in her Will to the Flying Doctor in Queensland, she had one very special person in mind, her son Brant.

Brant was a commercial pilot and had always dreamt of working for the Flying Doctor. Sadly, Brant would never get the opportunity to realise his dream.

Nine years ago, while transporting cargo in the Torres Strait, Brant was caught in a storm.

His plane crashed, just north of Horn Island. It took police divers nine months to recover the wreckage, but Brant’s body was never found. He was only 37 when he died.

It was a terrible time for the family, made worse by Jennifer receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer shortly after her son’s passing.

But she was determined that something positive should come from the tragic loss of her only son.

Jennifer decided to honour Brant’s dream of flying for the RFDS with a gift in her Will.

Jennifer's friends holding the plaque

Gifts in Wills have been a crucial source of funding for the Flying Doctor since our very beginnings. In fact, it was a gift in Will, left by Hugh Victor McKay, that enabled Reverend Flynn to lease the very first plane that established the Flying Doctor service more than 90 years ago.

Today, gifts in Wills provide vital funding across all areas of our expanding service. These special gifts help fund essential equipment like the neonatal retrieval system that allows our teams to safely transfer seriously ill newborn babies and the critical care monitor defibrillator that keeps patients alive on their way to the hospital.

Gifts in Wills also help fund the specialist training that equips our pilots to operate in the harshest of conditions.

RFDS pilots are among the most highly trained in the world.

When lives are at risk, only the very best will do.

Jennifer’s generous gift will be put in a named endowment fund within the RFDS Foundation, to launch the RFDS Aviation Mentoring Program, providing training opportunities to young aspiring pilots like Brant.

Funding for initiatives like this is critical to the future of the Flying Doctor.

Jennifer’s friend and executor of her Will, Jeff Schaffer, says she would have been delighted to see her gift being used to inspire and train pilots like Brant.

“My one regret is that I didn’t encourage Jennifer to tell RFDS about her gift in Will. I would have loved her to feel the joy of her legacy and meet the young pilots her gift would help train.”

We are deeply grateful to the many kind supporters like Jennifer who include a gift to the Flying Doctor in their Will.