Playroom donation in memory of a wonderful boy

David Dewar left a gift in memory of his loved son, bequest

David Dewar and his family have made a generous donation to help fund a playroom in the newly-opened Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences Building in memory of his son Adrian.

David Dewar and his son's memorial in the Adrian Charles Dewar Play Room

It’s more than 30 years ago, but David Dewar still vividly recalls the last words he said to his four-year-old son Adrian. ‘Don’t go back into the pool area because you could fall into the cold water and drown.’

“They were tragically prophetic words and I will never forget them,” says David.

The tragedy unfolded on an unusually warm Sunday in August 1983, when David was sharpening an axe and another son was painting the pool fence.

Mother, Christine, had been inside feeding their new-born baby, the couple’s seventh child, when they realised Adrian was missing.

“We hadn’t been using the pool for months, but that hot morning we inflated the boat and the twins were playing in it before lunch,” says David.

“While searching for Adrian I got the leaf rake out and to my horror there was my son’s body under a layer of leaf litter,” says David. “I administered CPR until the ambulance arrived, but we couldn’t save him.

“It was an absolute tragedy – a terrible time and we were all devastated for a long time afterwards.

“Adrian was very clever, had a great sense of humour and was musically gifted. He and his twin sister Joanne were wonderful companions and had great fun in the swimming pool, especially jumping in and out of our inflatable boat.

“I’d been a swimming instructor and lifesaving examiner so all our children could swim, including Adrian.”

After Adrian’s death, David felt he must do something to raise awareness about water safety education and became heavily involved in Royal Life Saving, including starting the first full-time pool lifeguard courses in South Australia and the first vacation aquatics program in the state.

Now the Dewar family has made a significant donation to the University’s new Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building in memory of Adrian.

The donation has been recognised through the creation of 'The Adrian Charles Dewar Play Room' a welcoming space for parents and their children when they are waiting for treatment.

“It will be a nice spot for parents to relax and wait with their children and will be a living memorial for our son, who was a very wonderful little boy.”

David has enjoyed a career in education as a teacher, principal, university lecturer and tutor in education. He is currently a deputy principal at East Adelaide School in St Peters, and has maintained close ties with the University.

“I’m very grateful to the University for the enriching career it’s given me,” says David. “When the new medical school was announced I attended the launch and responded to the call for donors.

“I thought it was an opportunity to do something both to remember Adrian and to help other children and families.”

“I just want to remind parents that they have to watch children around water at all times – and also remember our lovely little boy.”

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Tagged in philanthrophy, legacy giving