SINGAPORE - A new $100 million endowment, named in honour of the late Mr Richard Magnus, was launched on Monday in support of the health and psycho-social needs of mothers and children.

Temasek Foundation’s Richard Magnus Endowment will support programmes that provide antenatal and postnatal care for mothers and babies, and initiatives to further the development of children’s health and well-being.

Retired judge Richard Magnus, who died of a heart attack at age 77 in March 2022, spent 50 years in public service and held leadership roles such as chairman of the Public Transport Council and founding chairman of Temasek Cares.

He started as a legal officer during Singapore’s early days of independence, then moved to the judiciary and rose to become the top judge at the Subordinate Courts, now known as the State Courts.  

His granddaughter, Ms Nicole Magnus, said at the launch of the endowment that her grandfather was a model for kindness and showed her the importance of making a difference to the people around her. He always had some bottles of water in the car to offer to food delivery workers or postmen he came across, she added.

She said: “I saw him reverse his car once in a carpark, when he saw a road sweeper looking despondent from the rear-view mirror. He handed him some money for what he said was for a cold drink on a hot day. I saw the man cheer up immediately.

“Every person seemed to matter to grandpa. He cared not only about those who were family and close to him or those he came across. Stories of pain, suffering and injustice affected him as he discussed incidents and people he read about in the newspaper. He impacted my life not by talking about it but by the way he lived.”

Mr Magnus spearheaded efforts to engage parents, caregivers and the community to build a healthier future for children and families, and one area he paid particular attention to was maternal and child wellness, said executive director and chief executive of Temasek Dilhan Pillay.

Mr Magnus and his team at Temasek Foundation piloted an integrated health and wellness hub at Punggol Polyclinic in 2019 to care for mothers and children through developmental screening, growth monitoring, nutrition and lactation support, and screening for postnatal depression in mothers. Within two years of the pilot, over 14,000 screenings were carried out.

The Integrated Maternal and Child Wellness Hub (IMCWH) model has been expanded to Bedok and Tampines polyclinics, followed by Sengkang Polyclinic later in 2023.

Ms Magnus said: “The IMCWH represents the very essence of my grandfather’s work, a dedication to nurturing and supporting both mother and child throughout their life journey.”

Mr Pillay said: “Richard was someone who could connect with people from all walks of life. A compassionate individual, he had a heart for people, championed for the vulnerable and disadvantaged, and constantly sought to create a positive change in society.”

“The new endowment is not just a tribute to his memory. It will serve as a beacon for social innovations to address current and emerging needs.”

Source: The Straits Times, Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.