Sowing the seeds of the future

A retired Dapto dairy farmer has worked with UOW to touch lives as far away as Zimbabwe

Published

28/10/2018

Story By

Veronica Apap

Richard Miller dedicated his working life to agriculture. Born into a farming family in 1936, Mr Miller was raised on the land, first at Jasper’s Brush, near Berry, before moving to a farm at Dapto in 1951. For over four decades, he experienced the rewards, challenges and hardships of rural life.

Although farming was his life’s work, he recognised the potential of education and research to transform the Illawarra region and the lives of its people. He invested in future generations through his partnership with the University of Wollongong. When he retired, he gave the University a generous gift establishing the John and Belle Miller Family Memorial Fund, named in honour of his hard-working parents, to sponsor students and key research through two important scholarships programs.

“I live in government housing with my younger sister and my chronically ill mother who raised us by herself. …I can genuinely say that directly because of Richard Miller’s existence and compassion, my life has changed for the better. And not only has my life, but my family’s lives as well. Because of this kind man, I feel supported in my ambitions- and am much more likely to succeed”

The Miller Family Bridgewater Equity Scholarships have given dozens of students the chance to study and achieve in Engineering, Teaching and Nursing (the vocations and interests of Mr Miller’s father, mother and two sisters). The words of one grateful recipient testify to their real social impact and the value of Mr Miller’s gift: “I live in government housing with my younger sister and my chronically ill mother who raised us by herself. …I can genuinely say that directly because of Richard Miller’s existence and compassion, my life has changed for the better. And not only has my life, but my family’s lives as well. Because of this kind man, I feel supported in my ambitions- and am much more likely to succeed”.

The repercussions of the Miller Family Bridgewater scholarship have also been felt as far away as Zimbabwe. One student had the opportunity to undertake an international placement at a hospital in Zimbabwe, delivering three babies herself while there. They are a life-changing initiative.

Miller Family Bridgewater IHMRI Honours Scholarship are very special to Mr Miller. As the carer for his wife Janet, he came to know first-hand the significant impact the diagnosis of dementia has on a relationship and family. His support has allowed young research students to gain critical knowledge and valuable skills for pursuing work opportunities and research focussed on dementia, and other areas of medical research. The result is improved lives and health outcomes for people with the condition.

“UOW has contributed more to advancing the diversity and reputation of Wollongong than any other organisation”

Mr Miller chose to work with the University because he read the future direction of the Illawarra and understood the mission of the UOW. He said: “UOW has contributed more to advancing the diversity and reputation of Wollongong than any other organisation”. Through his generosity of mind and spirit, he has given his region and the University a chance to grow. The words of a scholarship student capture his lasting legacy: “Because of Richard Miller, the world is a better place as his kindness will be paid forward into everything I do”.

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