Local man’s lasting legacy

1st January 2020

Structural engineer Austin Hicks had a favourite saying – “Just do it!”. It was a motto he always adhered to and when he knew his life was coming to an end, he asked his family to do something for him.

Austin, who lived in Colchester, requested that after he died a fund should be set up in his memory to support local charities in the area.

A popular and well-respected figure, Austin worked for MLM Consulting Engineers for 35 years and became a partner in the firm. He was a staunch member of Colchester Centurion Rotary Club, could play several musical instruments and loved travel.

“Austin was a real planner and doer,” said his wife Anne. “He always had a great interest in supporting local charities, as we were both Essex born and bred.

“Before he died of cancer, at the age of 65, in May 2018, he made plans and asked that the family set up a fund after his death to help local causes.

“Our daughter Kathryn had heard of community foundations through her voluntary work as treasurer and fundraising for a mother and baby support group in Oxfordshire and suggested that it would be the best route to take. I thought this was a good idea and our son Jonathan agreed, hence the Austin Hicks Charitable Fund, was set up with the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

“I am sure Austin would be pleased with this. It would have been difficult to carry out his wishes without ECF. The fund is in the hands of professionals and we know that the money will be properly administered and will go to organisations we want to support, including those helping people with dementia, mental health, education, children and young people, and music.”

Anne and Austin (pictured) relished their life in Colchester, putting down strong roots in their family home for nearly four decades. Austin had trained qualified as a civil engineer at City University in London and Anne qualified trained as a radiographer at Essex County Hospital in Colchester.

The couple met when they were both 20 and married in 1977. They spent two years working in Lesotho, Africa where Austin worked as an engineer and Anne worked as a radiographer in the local mission hospital.

“It was a wonderful two years, we were in our 20s and didn’t have a care in the world,” said Anne.

“Working in Africa was a real eye-opener and we learnt a lot from the people we met. We came back from Lesotho in 1981 after our daughter Kathryn was born and settled in Colchester. Our son Jonathan was born two years later.

“Austin joined Colchester Centurion Rotary Club in 2003 and embraced everything Rotary stood for in ‘service above self’, enthusiastically taking the role of president in 2011. Austin also loved his work and enjoyed the fact that he could cover a huge area and not be office-bound all the time. He knew so many people and was very much respected.

“It is good to know that the fund he asked for has now been established and that it will be a very effective way of donating to local charities in a structured way, just as Austin would have wanted.”

For more information on how to set up your own fund as part of your legacy, please click here.