SA man pays tribute to friend through school refurbishment programme

News24 Lifestyle 5 months ago

Contributing to a school refurbishment programme seemed like the perfect way for Rob Broster to honour the community service legacy of his friend.

Even more so when he roped in several good Samaritans along the way.

Broster's friend Ian Macdonald, affectionately known as Fella, died in an accident in February, the day after he turned 44, and Broster put some thought into how he would pay tribute to him.

"Ian didn't just talk about what must be done. He just did it. When Ian passed, I found myself asking: 'What would Fella do?' Besides his career he has always strongly argued for making a difference and for using privilege and network for positive change," Broster said.

Macdonald spent the last two years of his life working to uplift Hillwood Primary School in Lavender Hill as part of the Partners for Possibility Programme.

'Fella's army'

The programme partners business people with school principals and Macdonald worked towards improving the school's infrastructure and programmes.

"Ian was committed to having a positive and lasting impression on the students of Hillwood Primary. He loved feeling that he was contributing to society and using his network to help those in unfavourable circumstances. The programme itself is only expected to last a year, but Ian had stayed on for almost two years and was committed going forward," Broster said.

The Noordhoek father of three was an active community builder, supported street children and was the editor of

To continue Macdonald's legacy, Broster set up a BackaBuddy crowdfunding campaign with the aim of completing his friend's goal to improve the school.

The campaign drew on an informal group of professionals known as "Fella's army" - builders, architects, interior designers and project managers - who would lend their efforts to assist the school.

"There was a sense of introspection amongst many of us when Ian passed. He made the world a better place, and many of us felt that we needed to carry on his work - hence Rob's hashtag #WhatWouldFellaDo," said Macdonald's cousin, Susan Macdonald.

"There was a groundswell of goodwill among friends and family, and so the concept of Fella's Army evolved and at the moment Rob and I are just [part] of the few who are putting our energies toward Ian's projects."

Rob Broster is honouring the memory of his friend Ian Macdonald. (Backabuddy)

The campaign had an initial goal of raising R90 000 to refurbish Grade 1 classrooms at Hillwood Primary, but the response was nearly immediate and it raised R130 451.66 from just 62 donors in less than a month.

Broster said that the response has motivated him to expand the scope of the project to honour his friend of 25 years.

"We started this campaign to help the educators at Hillwood by creating stimulating, colourful, well-resourced classrooms where learners want to be, and that enable learning in the best possible way. The project will include painting, fixing broken chairs and desks, repairing broken windows, reflooring. With additional funds, we are hoping to improve the Grade 2 and 3 classrooms as well."

WATCH Ian Macdonald speak at the school here

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