Norm and Ellen de Chastel: igniting a transformative gift
by Kate Evans
Last summer, Norm and Ellen de Chastel read two articles in the 2019 edition of Ignite. The first was about their friends, Simon and Sandy Whittle who had generously put a bequest to USC in their Will and wanted to inspire others by sharing their story, and the second was about the establishment of the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience–Thompson Institute (Thompson Institute). These two articles “ignited” a spark in Norm and Ellen.
Ellen contacted the USC Development Office wanting to know more about the Thompson Institute. A meeting with Director, Professor Jim Lagopoulos, was arranged so that she and Norm could learn about the programs and research being undertaken at the Institute. Norm and Ellen were inspired with the ground-breaking research in healthy brain ageing, youth mental health, PTSD, and suicide prevention as described by Professor Lagopoulos.
“We were greatly taken by the range and scope of this very important branch of research and USC’s obvious commitment to and the belief in this important area,” said Norm.
After their meeting, Ellen and Norm generously donated $100,000 to the Thompson Institute, knowing that their gift will enable research and provide services that will make a difference to the community they love. In writing to Jim, the de Chastels expressed, “We hope this donation will assist with your work and perhaps take you one step further towards achieving those goals you have set.”
One hundred percent of the de Chastel’s donation goes directly to research at the Thompson Institute. Professor Lagopoulos personally thanked Norm and Ellen for their “incredible philanthropy” helping to “keep all our research programs operational” during the challenge of working in a post-COVID-19 world at the Thompson Institute.
Norm and Ellen have been quiet philanthropists on the Sunshine Coast often giving anonymously. However, they have made the decision to make their gift to the Thompson Institute known. “This way it may be that other potential donors may be inspired to follow suit,” said Ellen.