Neville Kirchmann

Neville KirshmanNeville Kirchmann has had a rather unique relationship with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and its Foundation (PMCF). It’s not everyday that someone joins the Board of directors and is then asked to run the Foundation for a three-month interim period, which then turns into four years!

Neville was the President and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages prior to joining PMHF in 1998. He took the helm at a time when hospital foundations were typically run by professional fundraisers, so having someone with Neville’s strong business background was a bonus that the Foundation took full advantage of.

During his tenure as President and CEO, the very successful lottery program expanded from one to two lotteries, the Weekend to End Breast Cancer was launched, and there was effective clarification on governance and the different roles of the Board and Foundation management. People who worked under Neville describe him as “genuine and gracious” and “someone who always brings out the best in people.”

In 1997, Neville lost his wife to colon cancer, and this began his relationship with The Princess Margaret. Both Neville and his wife were extremely grateful for the wonderful doctors and nurses who provided exceptional physical and emotional care right from diagnosis to the end of her journey. They both wanted to express their gratitude by offering financial support to the hospital and its vision To Conquer Cancer.

The first area where Neville focused his interest and his financial support was psychosocial oncology where he created the first $1 million educational fellowship, The Edith Kirchmann Fellowship in Psychosocial Oncology. Anyone who has been a cancer patient or who has loved one knows that the disease of cancer goes far beyond physical symptoms. It takes a huge toll on the mind and the spirit, and Neville and his wife wanted to support the many programs at The Princess Margaret designed to provide psychological and emotional support, especially in the area of palliative care.

Neville and his family have also provided generous financial support to the Gerry Pencer Brain Tumor Centre by making the lead gift to create the Kirchmann Family Chair in Neuro-Oncology Research. In addition, for major hospital fundraising events, Neville is the first to purchase a table and lend his enthusiastic support, calling his friends and sending invitations to all of his business colleagues.

Several years ago, Neville’s family again faced cancer. This time Neville’s granddaughter, Avery, was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer at just 10 months old. Thanks to some very skilled doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and SickKids plus compassionate care by hospital staff and family, she has already celebrated her third birthday.

It’s obvious when talking with Neville that his association with The Princess Margaret has been very special. He speaks passionately about the doctors and researchers with whom he has built relationships, and he feels privileged to have connections with some of the world leaders in cancer medicine. He is proud of the fact that The Princess Margaret is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world.

Giving to the causes he is passionate about comes naturally to Neville Kirchmann. He points out that “it’s hard to ask others to support a cause with time or money, when you don’t do those things yourself.” He is a man who ‘walks the talk’!

Reviewed: October 2013