The Jack and Norah Donne Fund was established in memory of Jennie Churchill's parents and their love of nature.

When my dad, the late Jack Donne, retired in 1983 he was one of New South Wales’ longest serving coal mine managers. My grandfather was superintendent of the largest coal mining company in the southern hemisphere and my paternal ancestors dug up the black stuff in Swansea, Wales. I am the daughter of a coal miner from a coal mining family and I grew up in the 1950s and 60s living close to coal mines and power stations. It was a time when coal was part of everyone’s lives, not just ours.

From the Manager’s residence at one mine we could see the pit on top of a nearby hill. But our house was also surrounded by farmed countryside and untouched bush filled in spring with the sweet fragrance of wattle. The relative isolation of the mines meant we lived in some special places – Lake Macquarie bordered one front lawn and all we could see from our house was water and dense bush on every visible shoreline.

Holidays were spent by the beach and Dad and I would roam the rock pools for hours every day, fossicking to add to my carefully curated shell collection. I loved rocks too, and feathers – like coal mining, back then collecting from nature was a normal thing to do, the concept of leaving only footprints hadn’t taken hold.

My mother, Norah Donne, loved flowers, gardening and the bush. As she aged, her passion for native plants grew, as did her love of bush walking. When she died after a distressingly long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease we covered her coffin with huge sprays of native flowers and foliage. Her failure to appreciate a gloriously fragrant bunch of flowers was one of the saddest days in her decline.

Norah and Jack instilled in me a love of nature. From their example, I learned to appreciate its subtleties and to have the confidence to disappear for hours deep into the bush, wandering along rough tracks, clambering over rocks and just enjoying the solitude, silence and sense of discovery.

In 2005, my husband Rob and I began our Tasmanian love affair with the purchase of five acres encompassing wild sand dunes on Tassie’s east coast. It was too late for Norah and Jack – they never set foot on that precious patch of beach.

But they would have loved it as much as we do. They would have been proud of my role on the Board of the Tasmanian Land Conservancy and deeply moved by the TLC Foundation Trust Fund we’ve established in their names. And I know they would be thrilled their fund is helping to conserve Tasmania’s fragile landscapes forever.

Jennie Churchill

To give to the TLC Foundation through the Jack and Norah Donne Fund, please click here. To select the Jack and Norah Donne Fund, please click the drop down arrow beside the TLC Foundation in the ‘Transaction Details’. Your support enables the TLC to continue protecting and managing nature in Tasmania.

Moulting Lagoon and The Big Punchbowl Reserve. Photo: Kip Nunn