Giving Stories

Les Harrison: The Quiet Philanthropist

Les Harrison

Image: Les Harrison at Ansell in the late 1970s.

Les Harrison, who passed away in November 2020 at the grand age of 93, was a long-term supporter of Burnet Institute. He had a keen interest in the range of both medical research and practical projects undertaken by Burnet.

Here, his daughter Helen Harrison remembers her father.

“Les was born in Albury in 1927 and graduated from Melbourne University in 1947 with a BSc in Chemistry. He worked for 6 years with the Shell Company in Newport and in 1954 he started at the Ansell Rubber Company in Richmond, which eventually became part of Pacific Dunlop as Ansell International. He retired as Chief Chemist in 1992 but continued in a part-time consultancy role until 2005 when he was 78!

“His employment included several work assignments overseas – in Malaysia, USA and Germany. He played an integral part in the advancement of rubber/surgical glove and condom production and he also made an important contribution to the development of the cochlear implant. This close link between the products he worked on in a research and development capacity and the medical field piqued his lifelong interest in scientific/medical research.

“Les was an avid reader, in particular he devoured biographies of various scientists/doctors/researchers who pioneered new technologies, medications, vaccines and cures to improve the lives of fellow humans, in particular those in developing countries.

“He would have been first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine if he had lived to witness its rollout this year. My sister and I are so proud that the donations in his last year of life have been supportive of this cause.

“Les always enjoyed attending the information sessions provided for supporters and as his daughters we were fortunate to accompany him over several years when Mum was no longer with us. He was a quiet philanthropist for much of his adult life and the range of beneficiaries his contributions helped is humbling and admirable.

“We are determined that his legacy lives on and my sister Joy and I are now also supporting Burnet in its wonderful work.”

Helen Harrison

Joy Les Helen Harrison

Image: Joy, Les and Helen Harrison.

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