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I was battling. Your support is the difference between surviving and living a life
Myfanwy - wife of member

My husband, Peter, was a highly qualified Civil Engineer. He worked in Highways and Traffic Engineering and Town and Regional planning. We enjoyed a good life together, living in our home that we built in Harare, Zimbabwe, until Peter unfortunately became ill with cancer and passed away at the much too early age of 60.

At the time of his death I was coping financially

However, circumstances changed dramatically when I had to leave the increasingly volatile atmosphere of Zimbabwe.

My family urged me to move closer to them in New Zealand and Australia. I sold the house in Harare, but the money rapidly devalued in Zimbabwe’s rampant inflation. I left for New Zealand with limited savings which I eked out for as long as possible.

Eventually, however, I had no option but to throw myself on the mercy of the New Zealand state benefit system. Most of the benefit money went on paying rent and frugal living. I was trying to earn as much as I could by working at the university but at 70 years old, this was becoming increasingly difficult.

Some 25 years after Peter’s death a small miracle happened in the shape of a letter from the ICE Benevolent Fund

My son, Huw, was sorting through some papers and came across a letter that was sent at the time of Peter’s death. It was from the ICE Benevolent Fund and advised that if Peter had a surviving spouse, or dependent children, then they could receive support from the Benevolent Fund. How lucky that Huw filed the letter away, should we need it in the future. We did not know at the time how much that letter would change things for me.

In 2015, I had exhausted any savings, was surviving on state benefit and was seriously in need of assistance. I had little hope that the offer from the Ben Fund would still stand but decided to apply.

The application process was easy. The Ben Fund runs like an efficient machine and the people are so supportive.... like a family helping in times of need

I needed to provide the Ben Fund with details about my living expenses and then the application was put forward to the Board of Trustees. I was on tenterhooks and then, just before Christmas the decision came through and

it was the most welcome gift I have ever received. I burst into tears. I could not believe their generosity and kindness

He tried to save enough money for us to live on in retirement, but we could not have predicted how his life would be cut short and how things would change in Zimbabwe.

Since then, the Ben Fund has continued to support me. I have been able to afford luxuries like replacing my 30-year-old bed! It is the difference between surviving and thriving.

To say that I am hugely grateful is an understatement – I can’t really express my profound gratitude

My son, Gwilym, has followed in his father’s footsteps and is a Civil Engineer and a member of the ICE. So, not only could he access support from the Ben Fund, his family could too, which is a huge comfort to me. I know from experience, just what an impressive organisation the Ben Fund is and what a huge difference it makes to people’s lives.

My sincere and grateful thanks to the ICE Benevolent Fund