Colin Cockburn and his younger sister, Jenny McDonald are the first brother and sister to each establish funds with Geyser.
Raised on the family farm at Marton, Colin was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy around the time he was 10 or 11, and his parents told that he would be lucky to make it much past 20 years of age. So the decision was made to sell the farm, move to Taupo and allow Colin to enjoy the remainder of what was meant to be a short life.
Fast forward a few years and he was still going strong. A new, and more accurate diagnosis was made of Spinal Muscular Atrophy type III. The outlook was still not great but Colin lived very full and good quality life for almost 50 years in his beloved home in Taupo, astounding medics. As his own requirements for disability aids and assistance became greater he realised and experienced for himself the great disparity between those whose disability was caused by an accident and those whose disability was genetic (as was his) or caused by illness. This second group often have to fight hard for even a little help or the smallest/simplest piece of equipment, and it was his own such experience that lead him to establish the Cockburn Fund.
People who live in the Lake Taupo area with chronic long-term disability will benefit from this Fund established by Colin Cockburn in 2019. Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at a young age, Colin lived for almost another 50 years, astounding medics. Members of the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand who live in the local area will have priority access to gifts from Colin’s Fund.
The Cockburn family moved to Taupo in 1969. Daughter, Jenny met local farmer, Colin McDonald in 1978 and they were married a year later. Colin was a typical NZ dairy farmer. He milked cows from the age of 14 and so by the age of 50 he had had enough and retired, downsizing to 50 acres in Ngongotaha, near Rotorua. Jenny and Colin were able to continue their world travels during this time without the same restrictions they had previously had with the dairy farm, and Colin was also very supportive of Jenny and her musical work with students and shows. Tragically Colin was killed in an early morning car accident when he hit black ice near their home.
Jenny had learnt music as a child and continued her studies after she was married. She taught music from the age of 17 till the present and takes great pleasure from seeing her students attain their potential and grow in confidence through their musical journeys. She has conducted choirs, accompanied, and performed both as a soloist and as a member of local choirs. Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy type III as a teenager, Jenny never let the diagnosis affect her outlook on living life to the full. Colin also never “saw” the disability and encouraged and expected Jenny to do everything “normal” folk do. However, he was always there with a helping hand when needed and often came up with the solution to problems when they arose. In 2019, Jenny established the Colin and Jenny McDonald fund with the dual objectives to encourage musicians both young and not so young to further their musical aspirations and foster the love of music in future generations, and to make the lives of those living with a disability in the Rotorua and Taupo District communities a little easier. Colin and Jenny had both seen and experienced the prejudices a disability can create and the hardships endured for the sake of the lack of a simple piece of equipment or the lack of belief that a disabled person can or should do anything everyone else does. It is Jenny’s hope that maybe one day gifts will be made from her and her husband, Colin’s Fund to someone who falls into both categories as she does.