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“I think I always knew I wanted to look after people” is what old scholar Sophie Dunstone (1990) replied when asked why she chose Clinical Psychology as her career path after graduating from Pembroke.

17 November 2022

From working with children with disabilities and their families in London, to working on an adolescent mental healthcare team in South-West Sydney and private practice in Hong Kong and Adelaide to now opening the revolutionary social enterprise LIGHT, Sophie’s desire to support people has always been behind every path she has taken.

It is also the reason behind Sophie and her husband Nick’s decision to provide the funds to establish the Pembroke Community Scholarship in 2019, a scholarship that is provided to students who are experiencing financial hardship or adverse personal circumstances. “We strongly believe in giving back to the community. One of the first things we were thinking when we returned from overseas, particularly because Pembroke was very welcoming of us, was that we wanted to offer the opportunity to someone who maybe wouldn’t have the choice of attending Pembroke.”

When asked how Sophie felt about the Pembroke inaugural Giving Day in 2021 (which supported the Pembroke Community Scholarship), Sophie said it still brings a tear to her eye to think about how the Pembroke community engaged and donated to a cause that is so close to her heart. “There’s something significant about opening a young person’s eyes to possible opportunities that they don’t see around them every day. It’s not part of their existence or knowledge or something to aspire to because it’s not visible. This idea that we are all born with equal opportunity is rubbish. It is our responsibility to look after people less fortunate and the Pembroke Community Scholarship is one way to look after others by providing access to the wealth of possibilities that Pembroke provides our lucky children.”

Philanthropy is not Sophie’s only passion. Sophie was in the Pembroke Choir whilst at School and she later became a singer with the Philharmonia Chorus in London. She attributes her love of music and the creative arts to her experience with the Choir at school. According to Sophie, the Choir gave her a sense of belonging and excellence, along with a love of music.

1989 Musical photo copy

1989 Musical 'Guys and Dolls'

So, when Sophie and Nick met at university, naturally their love of music was something they bonded over. Although Sophie admits she sadly no longer has time for singing, her love of music is something she has passed down to her four children, who are all musically engaged students at Pembroke. (Georgia, Yr 11, was one of the leads in the 2020 Middle School Musical, Chicago).

On return to Adelaide, when thinking about their next venture, it was only fitting that they would merge their two passions together – music and philanthropy.

Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, LIGHT is a not-for-profit arts and hospitality precinct where the funds raised support the development of people in the creative arts (www.lightadl.com.au). The venue is home to a world-class restaurant Aurora, (headed by former d’Arenberg Chef Brendan Wessels) and a state-of-the-art entertainment space with all profits from Aurora, event spaces and bars being channelled straight into supporting the arts community.

“We want people to come to the familiar and from that, ease into the unfamiliar with cutting edge technology for the arts community. Artists are always at the behest of government grants so our aim in the long term is to set something up that is self-sustaining and can give them the opportunity to learn and experience new technologies that they can go on and develop and grow.”

When you walk into the doors of the LIGHT building, you get a sense that you are a part of something more than just a hospitality and arts venue, and that is exactly the intention of LIGHT. You can feel the warmth and community spirit – it’s the same feeling you get when you meet Sophie and hear her talk about her passion for supporting people.

When asked what message she would pass on to the next generation, Sophie’s answer was every bit as inspiring as she is herself. “There’s no set pathway in life. Follow your interests. What you want to happen can happen in the future. It doesn’t have to happen right now. Be Kind. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Even if you miss out on one opportunity, there will be another.”

Dunstone Family Photo

Sophie Dunstone with her family.