Jennie Thomas turned personal tragedy into humble generosity and has opened her heart to the region’s best and brightest, writes ROSEMARIE MILSOM.

The widely respected former vice chancellor of the University of Newcastle, Professor Nick Saunders, was many things, but huggable was not one of them. That  never stopped Jennie Thomas.

‘‘She has this wonderful philosophy about the value of a good hug and she disarms people,’’ says Bernie Curran, executive officer of the University of Newcastle Foundation, the institution’s philanthropic arm.

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