Spotlight: Louise and Robert Spittal
A Legacy of Giving After a Lifetime of Service
In 1975, Louise and Robert Spittal came to Canada on vacation and decided they wanted to return as residents. The couple emigrated from Edinburgh, Scotland and moved to Toronto’s Weston neighbourhood in 1977, living on Edmund Avenue for seven years before discovering a hidden gem a short walk away.
“A neighbour asked if I wanted to volunteer with her at the hospital, and I said ‘Hospital? What hospital?’” Louise recalls. “Robert and I had been on walks passing what was then the nurses’ residence on Buttonwood Avenue. But we didn’t realize there was a hospital, and the great work happening there.”
Louise and Robert have since moved to Burlington, Ont., but they have continued to volunteer at West Park. Volunteers are an important part of West Park’s community, offering their valuable time to help enhance patients’ experiences. Louise spent nearly 30 years at the Gift Shop and now supports other departments; while Robert helps facilitate Recreation Therapy programs, and even dresses up as Santa Claus during the Holiday Season. In that time, the couple have had the opportunity to get to know many patients and staff members, and have even witnessed many “amazing” recoveries.
“I’ve seen people coming to the hospital in very poor conditions and leaving quite healthy,” says Robert. “You see people arrive wheelchair bound or bed ridden, and then after their rehabilitation, they go home and return to the hospital looking relatively healthy and living their life again.”
A few years ago, after many years of volunteer service, Robert and Louise decided to leave a gift in their will for West Park. This commitment makes them members of the William Gage Legacy Circle, a special giving society that honours the generosity of those who choose to leave a charitable bequest to West Park in their will. Louise and Robert believe that planned giving is something that everyone should think about.
“You stash away the whole time you're working, hoping to have a good retirement. So you want to give back to a cause that deserves it, something that does good work.”
“It’s just the two of us; we don’t have any children. What we leave behind is going to the charities we support, which includes West Park,” says Louise. “You have to remember your community and the places that need your help throughout your lifetime and after.”
Robert agrees with his wife, emphasizing his gratitude for the benefits he received after he retired from his career as an industrial mechanic.
“You stash away the whole time you’re working, hoping to have a good retirement,” he says. “So you want to give back to a cause that deserves it, something that does good work.”