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The sky’s no limit for former pilot Grace’s generosity

NextSense donor, bequestor and trailblazing pilot Grace has been supporting people with vision and hearing loss for most of her long life.
Portrait of Grace Cavanagh in an aircraft cockpit at Bankstown Aerodrome during the second Australian Women Pilots Association Reliability Trials Sydney September 1954
  • Vision
  • Hearing

NextSense donor, bequestor and trailblazing pilot Grace has been supporting people with vision and hearing loss for most of her long life.

Grace hails from the tiny town of Conargo in the Riverina region of New South Wales, where she has lived since 1952, at the same beautiful rural property. It was here that Grace first encountered NextSense (then known as the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children), when a fundraiser knocked on her door. Since then, she has continued her generous donations because she firmly believes in the value of supporting people with vision and hearing loss.

Grace, like so many of our loyal donors, has shown a passion for helping others break down barriers. She knows the freedom and joy that can come with pushing limits and realising possibilities.

At a time when female pilots were extremely rare, Grace made history back in 1954 as the youngest member to join the Australian Women Pilots' Association at age 19. The skies became her playground and connected her with a world beyond remote Conargo.

Flying was my form of transport and gave me independence that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

— Grace

It also enabled her to meet other women pilots across Australia, including during a trip to Perth. ‘Meeting people was the best part of it’, she says.

Grace’s father always had the flying bug and dreamed of joining the Air Force during World War I, but the war ended before he could do so. The wide-open spaces of the area were perfect for flying and he took the opportunity to join the Deniliquin Aeroclub, bringing Grace along with him. After honing their flying skills in a two-seater war-time plane, the pair eventually managed to get the funds together to purchase their own aircraft.

While Grace set down her wings many years ago, she keeps herself busy in her garden and continues to devote her time to bring joy to others. A sewing enthusiast, she regularly donates her handmade quilts to her local op shop, and also contributes to other organisations that support people who are blind, such as Guide Dogs Australia.

Grace was named a Life Member in 1977 in recognition of her continuous contribution to NextSense.

And her generosity will make a mark long into the future, as she has decided to leave a gift in her Will to ensure NextSense programs and services can continue to change lives.

Leave a lasting legacy and help NextSense to support future generations.

Learn more about how to contribute as Grace has done by leaving a gift in your Will.

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