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Celebrating three generations of philanthropy

27 March 2012

Behind every name there is a story.  For the Malaghan Institute that story begins in 1960s Wellington, with Tip Top co-founder Mr Len Malaghan, his wife Ann and their united belief that supporting quality research is the key to curing cancer. Five decades later, Len’s grandson Matt is proudly continuing the Malaghan family legacy of philanthropy.

As a young man Len Malaghan was a cheese and butter maker at the Tapanui Co-Operative Dairy Factory.  At age 20 he qualified to be a manager but was considered too young for a senior position within the Dairy Division of the Department of Agriculture, which instead gave him the opportunity to train under a visiting ice-cream manufacturer from the United States.

This led to a passion for ice cream and in 1935 Len and Ann opened a milk bar in Manners Street, Wellington, specialising in ice cream and milkshakes. This humble enterprise took Wellington by storm and before long had expanded into New Zealand’s iconic Tip Top Ice-Cream Ltd.

At the peak of his career Len was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes. During his treatment Len recognised the value of medical research, so he and Ann established a medical research trust by gifting shares in their company to the Wellington Medical Research Foundation. This was used to establish the Len and Ann Malaghan Medical Research Trust and the Wellington Cancer and Medical Research Institute, later renamed the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research.

In the 44 years since Len passed away, at the relatively young age of 61, his family have worked tirelessly to ensure his vision is recognised.  As Chairman of the Trust Board since 1990, son Graham has successfully overseen the rebuilding of the Malaghan Institute into New Zealand’s largest independent medical research organisation. While grandson Matt, a businessman in his own right, is a Trust Board member responsible for governing the Institute’s fundraising initiatives.  The major annual event of which is the Wellington AMI Round the Bays fun run.  

Not content to simply watch from the sidelines, Matt decided to compete in this year’s ISC Lenco Half Marathon.  What’s more, he and wife Deborah were the top fundraisers of the Malaghan Institute Run for Research team, raising $2850 towards the Institute’s research programmes.

Matt says he has always run for fitness, but had never completed a half marathon before.   “With the Malaghan Institute as the official charity partner of the 2012 AMI Round the Bays, this was the perfect platform for me to take my running to the next level,” he says.

With Matt involved Deborah says she didn’t get much of a choice about entering, having completed a half the previous year, but was very happy to participate because it was for a good cause.  “The only thing I regret is that I didn’t beat Matt as so many supporters had encouraged me to do,” she says.  

Matt came home in 1:57 hours, while Deborah was just a few minutes behind at 2:07 hours.  Both of them say they will be back again next year.
Institute Director Prof Graham Le Gros says he has a great respect for the Malaghan family, and for Matt’s personal achievement in the RTB fun run.  

“It is hard not to get caught up by Matt’s enthusiasm and ‘can do’ attitude,” says Prof Le Gros. “Matt made time in his hectic schedule to train, fundraise, and raise awareness of the Malaghan Institute – and he did this ultimately to improve the lives of other people.  This is something I know his grandfather would be proud of and I hope others will be inspired by Matt’s example.”