As a fifth-generation Hunter Valley miner, mine manager and owner, Allan Davies knows the value of digging – whether that’s for coal, gold or medical knowledge.
He graduated from Queensland University with a BE Mining (Hons) then emigrated to South Africa to work in gold mines. There, Allan married his Queensland-born sweetheart Lyn and finally returned to Australia in 1979 with their first baby son.
Next came a soujourn in the US working for BP Coal, which exposed Allan and Lyn to the American view of philanthropy.
“It is much more active than Australia,” he says. “The people I worked with gave a fair slice of their pay cheque to various charities.”
The family’s own fortunes blossomed upon their return to the Hunter in 1990, leading to the formation of Excel Coal which was eventually sold to Peabody in 2006.
Allan then served as an executive director for Whitehaven Coal until earlier this year. He stopped working fulltime in the coal business but maintains an investment interest.
Keen to help those less fortunate, the Davies family established the Dalara Foundation in 2007. A year later they made their first donation to HMRI – today, they are supporting no fewer than three new stroke grants, along with ongoing projects.
“The first year we donated, the money went to the stroke group so we decided that that’s where we’d stay,” Lyn says. “I see it as a way of being able to help lots of people, not just a few. It’s really important that these studies and clinical trials can progress.”
For Allan there is a sense of achievement and satisfaction in making a difference.
“We have a number of friends who have had strokes. If there is better understanding of the causes and new treatments then a whole bunch of people can be assisted,” he says.
“The stroke team are making considerable improvements and we’re particularly keen on seeing the connection between clinical research and clinical action. It reinforces our desire to be in it for the long haul with HMRI.”