Living generously

For Paddy Webb, philanthropy is a way of life

Regarded as one of Edmonton’s most generous philanthropists and a true pillar in the community, Paddy Webb is at a loss for words when it comes to explaining her generous spirit. “It’s just the way I was raised,” she says. “My dad used to tell us, ‘If you’ve got it, you give it.’ That’s what we did.

“I was an X-ray technician a million years ago, right here at the University of Alberta Hospital. It was a lot of hard work, often in the middle of the night, and, if the doctor didn’t like the pictures, back you’d go to do it all over again. Now look at me. You’d think I was someone special.”

As longtime donors to the University Hospital Foundation (UHF), Webb’s parents, Curly and Gladys MacLachlan, led by example. “Supporting diabetes research was very important to them,” says Webb. “They understood that in healthcare, progress starts in the research lab.”

Such community support eventually led to the creation of The Edmonton Protocol, a treatment that revolutionized care around the world for patients afflicted with a particularly devastating form of diabetes.

Growing up in such an environment had a profound effect on Webb. “Philanthropy was never seen or treated as something special. It was just something you did because you could. You gave your time. You gave whatever money you could afford. If you can do that for people, why wouldn’t you?”

Webb and her late husband, Ken, have helped bring state-of-the-art equipment, technology and some of the best medical minds in the world to the University of Alberta Hospital.

She understands that thousands of Albertans are alive today because of the generosity of people like them – but simply sees it as her way of life.

“I’ve been around generous people my whole life. My parents taught me to be that way. Kenny was always extremely generous. It’s been a way of life of mine for as long as I can remember.”

Her first gift to the UHF was nearly 35 years ago. Since then, she has supported every major fundraising campaign, including the Campaign for Prostate Health, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute Campaign and, most recently, the Brain Centre Campaign. She has been just as generous with her time, serving on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 1999- 2005, and as a Festival of Trees volunteer for decades. She’s also co-chair of the University Hospital Foundation’s Alumni Connection.

For her contributions, Webb has been awarded two of the Foundation’s most prestigious awards – the Peter Lougheed Award for the Advancement of Health Sciences and the Audrey Greenough Award for outstanding service and support.

She is proud of both achievements, but says they were never her motivation for giving what she has. “I tell people, ‘Give what you can.’ That’s all we can do.”

As for her own lifetime of giving? “I couldn’t imagine living any other way,” she says. “And I never will.”

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