Library donation amount 'fantastic'

By Alexandra Newlove

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Mayor Sheryl Mai says a bequest from Carl and Mary Leonard, pictured in Whangarei District Library in 2005, is absolutely fantastic. Photo / Tania Webb
Mayor Sheryl Mai says a bequest from Carl and Mary Leonard, pictured in Whangarei District Library in 2005, is absolutely fantastic. Photo / Tania Webb

More details of bequests left by a generous overseas couple who spent half of their time living in Whangarei have been revealed, with $337,875 going to Whangarei Libraries.

Mary and Carl Leonard - who lived for six months each year on schooner Annabelle in Whangarei's Town Basin - first made headlines when they popped into Whangarei Library unannounced in 2005 and donated $25,000. The couple were not able to get New Zealand residency, but loved the place so much they wanted to make a difference.

Their original donation went to a collection of career books for young people, still shelved under the Carl and Mary Leonard Collection banner.

Library manager Paula Urlich said it was yet to be decided what service the latest bequest would be spent on.

"One thing we do want to do is make sure that, whatever we introduce using the money, we have enough to keep it ticking over into the future, rather than spending it all in one heap," she said.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said it is "absolutely fantastic" for the library to receive such a generous gift.

She said Mary and Carl sounded like wonderful people and the fact that they chose to support Whangarei Library, showed how fondly they remembered their time in Whangarei.

Carl died in 2011 on the day of Mary's 100th birthday. His wife lived until 2013, when she died in a Brisbane rest home.

The adventurous seafaring couple donated more than $2 million to New Zealand charities, including $500,000 to Save the Children and grants to Oxfam, Volunteer Service Abroad and Habitat for Humanity.

- Northern Advocate

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