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When 75-year-old pensioner Malcolm Mawhinney died in 2021, his only asset was the uninterrupted multimillion-dollar ocean views from his derelict Clovelly home bought decades ago.
A cricket tragic known as the Mal, Mawhinney had lived frugally in a corner semi that his few friends joked was held together with weeds and pigeon poo.
Malcolm Mawhinney was a solitary man who lived frugally. He left the proceeds of the sale of his home to feed the homeless who visit Bill Crews’ Exodus Foundation for help.
When the two-bedroom property at 23 Northumberland Street sold at auction for $4.55 million in late August, the entire proceeds of the estate were left to Bill Crews’ Exodus Foundation where Mawhinney had volunteered to help the homeless every Monday.
Crews said Mawhinney had two great loves, the cricket and the SCG, and volunteering at the centre in Ashfield.
“He was the loveliest man in the world,” Crews said.
He didn’t know about the bequest until after he’d scattered Mawhinney’s ashes on the “hallowed ground” of the SCG, a rare privilege granted to only a few people. “He cared and loved people, and he would turn up, and show movies. ” Sometimes it would be Rambo, another time The Sound of Music, Crews said. “He just quietly came, did what he did, and went home. He was a person who never made a fuss, very kind, very gentle and very loving.”
Malcolm Mawhinney.
From his appearance, nobody would have thought he had money to donate, Crews said.
It was one of the largest bequests received by Crews’ organisation, which feeds 600,000 needy people a year. It operates the Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant and operates food vans across Sydney.
According to a JBWere report in 2018, the most recent of its kind, the bequest is well above the average of $40,000 to $50,000 left by the 10,000 or so people who die every year and have nominated a charity in their will.
Mawhinney’s friend John Cottle said Mawhinney had loved cricket of all sorts, making friends with other fans and players. He travelled across NSW to attend the Sheffield Shield, and sat in the same seat every year at the SCG during the Test. He also volunteered with the Museums of History NSW, loved the Swans and the Western Suburbs Magpies.
Malcolm Mawhinney was reading in his sunroom when this Google Street view image was taken.Credit: Google Street View
An intelligent, quiet and private man who liked to read and followed the news, Mawhinney didn’t talk much about his past. He was brought up by his mother Eileen, a sole parent, who had bought the house about 50 years ago.
A clerk, Mawhinney retired from the federal department of social security in 1990.
A creature of habit, Mawhinney would visit the Clovelly Bowling Club every afternoon for a few schooners of Reschs’ beer, before returning home, often for a frugal dinner of baked beans.
Cottle said Mawhinney lived “hand to mouth”, and refused to erode his only asset, the house.
“Malcolm, you are the richest bloke in Clovelly because of the property’s views,” Cottle recalled telling his friend. “‘Get a reverse mortgage, if Rev Bill gets a couple of thousand less it won’t matter.’ But he wouldn’t be in it.”
When the Mal turned 75, eight months before his death, Cottle and few others took him for a birthday lunch at the Centennial Park Homestead restaurant.
Mawhinney told them it was the first birthday party he’d been given in his entire life.
Few photos exist of the man whose views will feed the thousands. He rarely invited friends into his home except to occasionally sit on the front porch.
Photos by Google Street View over the years capture Mawhinney sitting in a plastic chair, his head bent reading, with the sun hitting his back.
As his house deteriorated, the surrounding homes in streets near him were renovated and went up.
When it sold, the two bedroom home on a corner block in Clovelly was said to be in need of an upgrade. It was held together with pigeon poo and weeds, Malcolm Mawhinney’s friends said. Credit: Domain
Real estate agent, Tony Andreacchio, the principal of Raine & Horne in Ashfield, which handled the sale, said the house was a mess when he first visited. Mawhinney had been sick in the last six months of his life, and only spent a day or two in the house before being hospitalised for the last time.
Andreacchio found evidence of Mawhinney’s love of cricket, including two Don Bradman coins issued by the Mint.
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