Lasting legacy supports science students

Mair Collins with carer and family friend Peter Eames.

Mair Collins with carer and family friend Peter Eames.

Mair Collins, a devoted mother who nursed her two sons through HIV in the 1980s, has left a $1 million bequest to the University of Sydney in memory of her son, science graduate Philip Collins.

Philip and Paul Collins were very successful brothers. Philip, an accomplished artist, had his own company producing an IT and computer magazine, as well as a gallery in Paddington. Paul was an interior designer who had his own studio and an exclusive restaurant in Double Bay.

Both brothers contracted HIV in the early 1980s, when treatments were less advanced than they are today. Sadly, Philip, Paul, and their long-term partners died of the virus in the early 1990s.

In the 1970s, Philip attended the University of Sydney and in 1976, graduated with a Bachelor of Science. It was his wish that his estate go to the Cancer Association and the AIDS Society, with the bulk going to the University of Sydney.

The bequest, to the Faculty of Science, establishes the Philip Thomas Collins Scholarships, which will ensure talented students in financial need will be supported throughout their science degrees.

“We are deeply grateful to the late Mrs Mair Collins for her generous gift to the University of Sydney to establish the Philip Thomas Collins Scholarships in Science,” Professor Trevor Hambley, Dean of the Faculty of Science, says.

“This lasting legacy provides vital support for generations of talented students in financial need helping them focus on their studies and providing encouragement as they pursue their careers in science.”

Peter Eames was a carer and family friend. “Both sons were nursed by their parents who were devoted to them,” he says.

“I first met Philip as a volunteer with the Community Support Network, which supports men living with HIV in the final time of their lives. I was assigned to Philip and was his carer until his death about 18 months later.”

After Paul’s passing, his estate went to Philip and, in turn, Philip’s estate passed onto his parents. Philip was keen to ensure his estate would provide support for disadvantaged students studying the course he had undertaken years before.

“Of all the clients and families I looked after as an AIDS carer, the Collins family left the most lasting impression of being a family and what it meant to be an AIDS sufferer in the very early days of the AIDS crisis,” says Peter.

The Philip Thomas Collins Scholarships in Science will become available in 2017.