Dr. W. Sidney Gilchrist, his wife Frances Harriet and their daughter Leota Elizabeth Cassova, died in a car accident on an Alberta highway on June 13, 1970. The Gilchrists had served the people of Angola for 40 years in medical and educational work under the United Church of Canada. A few days earlier, Sid had remarked that he was considering setting up a scholarship fund for Angolans.
Through grief at the great loss, the five Gilchrist sons, together with the United Church of Canada, established a memorial fund that would continue their distinguished work. It was to be named the Gilchrist Memorial Angola Student Trust Fund.
A year after the accident, on June 15, 1971, an administrative committee meeting took place at United Church House in Toronto with Rev. Frank Archibald, Rev. Garth Legge, Rev. Tom Gilchrist, Mrs. Maria Chela Chikueka and Mrs. Ralph Collins present. The fund had reached $25,000 (CDN) with a target of $50,000 before any scholarships could be dispensed. By the end of January 1972, the target had been met and the first candidates were being considered. The funding priority would be "a strong but not exclusive emphasis on medical and para-medical studies." That year, $3,900 was distributed.
In 1973, the Fund provided $8,550 and by 1978, it was giving $28,500 to students. In 1985, scholarships totalling $84,000 had been awarded to 44 students. By 1993, it had topped $100,000 annually. Donations in 2001 reached $153,266 and in 2002, they were $110,965.
Rev. Murray MacInnes served as the first Chair; Rev. Tom Gilchrist served as the first Secretary; Rev. Garth Legge served as the representative of the Board of the Division of World Outreach.
The Gilchrist Memorial Angola Student Trust Fund changed its name in 1981 to the Angola Memorial Scholarship Fund when the United Church of Canada was relieved of responsibility for its administration. The Angola Memorial Scholarship Trust Fund was incorporated by Letters Patent on September 9, 1981, Ontario Corporation #490452. A Constitution was adopted in 1982.
CLICK HERE FOR A BRIEF HISTORY OF ANGOLA.