Darvell was the inaugural Trustee of The John Villiers Trust (JVT), which was established under the Will of the late John Villiers in 2002, and served passionately as its Chair for 17 years before his retirement in 2019. Darvell’s demonstrated his belief in the importance of the JVT and its role in supporting country Queensland communities by being a personal donor to JVT even after his retirement.
He leaves behind a remarkable legacy as a passionate champion of the philanthropic sector. His contributions included acting as President of the Australian Association of Philanthropy (now Philanthropy Australia), Trustee and Treasurer of the National Gallery of Victoria, Vice-President of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund, Director of the Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation Ltd (now Youthrive Victoria) and the National Institute of Circus Arts, and a member of the Patrons’ Council of Royal District Nursing Service. He was also Chair of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust for 50 years, a trustee of the L.E.W. Carty Charitable Fund and most recently a Director of the Brian M Davis Charitable Foundation.
He was honoured for his service to the community as a Member of the Order of Australia. In addition, Monash University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa for his contribution to the Victorian community and “to Melbourne’s role as the major centre of philanthropy in Australia”, and Central Queensland University Council bestowed an honorary degree of Doctor of the University in 2016, for “contributions to the philanthropic sector and various organisations including the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Philanthropy Australia and The John Villiers Trust”.
John Villiers was a client of Darvell’s for many years, and John trusted Darvell to be his executor and inaugural trustee of the charitable trust he created for the benefit of Queensland. Darvell was dedicated to honouring John’s wish to leave a lasting legacy that would continue to support the state he loved. Darvell brought great empathy, curiosity and business acumen to JVT’s granting, and he delighted in engaging with grantees. Under his direct management, philanthropic vision, and leadership JVT’s assets grew from $6.75 million in 2002 to more than $24 million by 2019, with more than $9 million distributed in grants. One of Darvell’s last legacy achievements for JVT was to see it become a Public Ancillary Fund, enabling it to act as a vehicle for others to leverage their donations contributing to transformative impact across rural, regional and remote Queensland for many years to come.
His belief in the power of philanthropy in helping build strong, resilient communities is an extraordinary legacy that he leaves in so many organisations, including ours.
Our thoughts and sincere condolences go out to his wife Barbara, his three children and extended family.
Darvell leaves an extraordinary legacy and will be greatly missed.