Leonie Coates 1949-2006

Leonie is the reason the New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation was established in 2007.  It was her wish that assistance be available to women in her situation to enhance their quality of life, to share and to inform healthy women of their risks.

The following is the Obituary that appeared in the Christchurch Star Newspaper shortly after Leonie's death:

Leonie Coates died at Nurse Maude Hospice on May 22, 2006. Leonie died of Ovarian Cancer, referred to as the 'silent killer'.  It was her wish that this disease receive more public attention to help save lives.  In 2005 Leonie wrote a document entitled 'My Life', referred to below. 

Leonie was born on the 10th of April 1949 in Christchurch.  She was the third of four children - sister of Paul, Carol and Wayne.

Leonie was married to Allan, and they celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary on May 11, 2006.  

Leonie has two daughters, Rachel and Jackie, and a son Paul.  She has 2 granddaughters whom she adored, Harriett and Grace.

Leonie attended Linwood North Primary and Linwood High School.  Early on Leonie worked in several pharmacies, including Wainoni, Riccarton, and Beckenham.  She also worked in Godfreys Laboratory.  Leonie writes that her work places were a source of great friends - particularly Barrington and Halswell Medical Centers and later at Harcourts' City and Beckenham offices.  Leonie's later career change to Real Estate was courageous and she was a real success.

Leonie wrote of wonderful family holidays in Timaru, and the Marlborough Sounds.  In the last few years Leonie and Allan shared wonderful holidays in their caravan at Gore Bay.  

In her story Leonie names many people who have been close, treasured friends.  She made time for everyone, even when she was very ill.  Leonie's "my life" story contains very living, personal messages to her closest family.  she was happiest when with her family, especially her granddaughters.  There was much fun to be had at school holiday time - baking, camping, movies, the park.  Leonie had a great sense of humour - mischievous, witty and cheeky!  She was assertive, very capable, elegant and stylish, and above all, beautiful. Leonie was devastated at having to be parted from her family through her illness.  Leonie showed tremendous courage and resilience in the face of cancer.  Through this time she was able to show the world that she was even more amazing than we already knew.  Leonie wrote: 

"It seems so unfair but I suppose that's life".


Leonie’s daughters, Rachel Brown and Jackie Whiting launched the Foundation on May 22, 2007. Leonie desperately wanted to help other women and their families through education and awareness, and to support others with the disease.

Leonie’s husband Allan gifted $10,000 from her estate and this funding along with the sheer hard work and unwavering commitment of her daughters to honour her wishes, meant New Zealand women finally had their first dedicated gynaecological charity.


Rachel Brown - Co-founder and past Board Member 2007-2010

Lives in Christchurch with her partner. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Canterbury University and in 2007 co-founded the Foundation with her sister, Jackie in memory of and following the wishes of their mother, Leonie Coates.

In addition to her current role, Rachel has worked in recruitment for several years in New Zealand and overseas. Rachel also worked for six years as an Account Manager for several multinational companies across both private and public medical facilities, in both Pharmaceuticals and Medical Technology.

In these roles Rachel gained valuable experience in the fields of Oncology, Cardiac Surgery, Cardiology, Respiratory, Blood Collection and Intravenous Technology.  Rachel then became Director of her own company, working as a Personal Insurance Consultant, with a focus primarily on women's personal health related insurances.

Rachel has also worked as a volunteer telephone counsellor and face to face as a youth counsellor.

Jackie Whiting - Co-founder and past Board member 2007-2009

Jackie is a director of a family-owned construction company and lives in Christchurch with her husband and two daughters. She is actively involved in the community including participating in school fundraising and committee events. Jackie has a strong social and business network in the Canterbury region.

Catherine Fyfe - Past Board Member 2013-2016

Catherine’s professional career has seen her work in a range of senior HR roles across several sectors. Her most recent role was as General Manager Human Resources for Summerset Group, a publicly listed Retirement Village operator. Catherine has also held roles in the Financial Services Industry, including with the National Bank and Sovereign and as a senior consultant for an international Management Consultancy firm.

Having recently retired, Catherine and her husband Steven now divide their time between Queenstown and Wellington where they both contribute to a range of charitable organisations. Catherine has been a Trustee with the Foundation since 2013. Over many years Catherine has worked through a number of gynaecological issues and has a particular passion for ensuring that everyone can access quality information about their condition that will assist them in their decision-making. She is also committed to fostering on-going research in this field.


Amy Robens - Past Board Member 2015-2017

Amy joined the Foundation as a Trustee in July 2015 bringing more than 20 years journalism and public relations experience.

She has worked in both the public and private sectors across industries spanning health, banking, telecommunications, non-for-profit, FMCG, manufacturing, education and the arts. A blend of analytical and creative thinking, Amy thrives on developing communication strategies across consumer and corporate disciplines, finding clever solutions which strike the right balance between standing out in front and mitigating risk. She has represented some of the world's best multinational brands both in New Zealand and Europe as well as iconic locally owned and operated Kiwi companies.

Amy joined the Foundation soon after experiencing pre-grade 3 cancer which was caught in time and she wanted to use her expertise to raise awareness of gynaecological cancer so that she could help women in all stages of the disease.

Left Continue shopping
Your Order

You have no items in your cart