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Synod claims bayside retirement village as ‘absolute gift’

A church-run charity has been successful against the Queensland Government in gaining the right – should it choose – to sell off a Brisbane bayside retirement village.

It established the village with funds donated from the estate of a renowned philanthropist almost 65 years ago.

The Anglican Church’s Corporation of the Synod of the Diocese of Brisbane (Synod) yesterday prevailed in its Supreme Court application seeking money it received from the estate of Sir Edwin Marsden Tooth – who died in 1957 – declared a “gift absolute”.

Supreme Court Justice Glenn Martin AM, in an eight-page decision, said the charitable funds bequeathed by the late Sir Edwin were used by the Synod to help fund construction of the seaside, Manly-based, Edwin Marsden Tooth Memorial Home.

The Anglicare Southern Queenslandwebsite describes the village as “the idyllic Brisbane seaside…series of modern, bungalow-style independent living units known as Lota Court”.

“The large, landscaped grounds also house the heritage-listed, Georgian-style (historically listed) Lota House. With the advantage of being positioned near the esplanade and bay shores, the onsite al fresco area is the ideal place to catch sea breezes off the bay.”

The Synod, during a hearing in May, applied to the court seeking that the money be declared a “gift absolute”, meaning that it was not bound by any trust conditions, nor any charitable purposes.

However, Queensland’s Attorney-General intervened with an application seeking that it be placed in a trust for charitable purposes.

Justice Martin yesterday ruled: “It is declared that, upon the proper construction of the Will of Sir Edwin Marsden Tooth dated 14 October 1957, the (Synod) is beneficially entitled to the gift in…the will and in respect of which it has all the powers of an absolute owner.”

The court was told Sir Edwin – who was born in Sherwood, Brisbane in October 1886 – had been a “very successful entrepreneur” and “towards the end of his life a generous philanthropist”.

According tothe Australian Dictionary of Biography: “Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 5 July 1915, Tooth was commissioned in October and promoted lieutenant in January 1916.

“He reached the Middle East in April and in the following month was sent to the Western Front where he served with the 2nd Tunnelling Company. In June 1918 he was gassed. From 29 September to 3 October that year he took charge of roadwork near Bellincourt, France, while under heavy fire and won the Military Cross.”

Sir Edwin then went on to make his fortune from 1923 via his very successful Austral Motors motor vehicle dealership empire.

See the court decision for full details.

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