UNSW alumna and lawyer Vanessa Hardman was a gifted sportswoman with a passion for travel, a selfless commitment to family, friends and colleagues, and an aptitude for always staying positive.

In 2016, after battling breast cancer for six years, Vanessa passed away at the age of 47. A memorial scholarship has been established in her honour and will help future UNSW Law students carry on her legacy.

“One of Vanessa’s biggest strengths was her selflessness,” remembers her husband of nine years, Dominic Spacie. “She always put other people before herself… and she enjoyed being a mentor.”

Vanessa, a securitisation partner at international law firm Allen & Overy in London, also believed in excellence, says Spacie. “She continued working and leading international conference calls from hospital beds throughout her illness.”  

“The sheer guts she had in the last years was staggering,” he says. “She just lived life to the fullest and carried on… It was inspirational.”

Dominic remembers how his wife loved sunshine, which she found on Italian beaches, downhill skiing, walks in the countryside, cooking (especially her famous pavlovas) and visiting with family and friends.

One of her dearest friends was Nicole Horley, who met Vanessa at the MLC School in Burwood when they were 12 years old.

“We first became friends through sport,” recalls Horley. “Vanessa was an exceptional sportswoman, who was always the best player on our hockey team.”

After school, the young women continued their friendship at UNSW, where they completed combined commerce and law degrees, majoring in finance.

Nicole recalls fondly their weekend road trips to the snowfields and 21st birthday parties, and two backpacking trips around Europe and Thailand.    

“She always had so much energy. She could never stand still for very long.” 

“Vanessa was just exceptional at everything she did,” says Horley. “I will always remember her smile and her laugh.”

In early 2015, Vanessa joined the board of the UK Foundation of UNSW Australia, where she enthusiastically supported a project to organise funds for a prestigious scholarship.

The scholarship would provide full-tuition to help a disadvantaged student complete a law degree at UNSW. It would also allow them to complete their final year of study in London with a mentorship and work placement at a top international firm.

“She was someone who was very engaged with the need to improve the lives of others,” says UK Foundation Chair and UNSW alumnus Paul Koffel. “I was always struck by her energy and her incredible optimism.”

After she passed away, Paul and the UK Foundation decided to make the scholarship a memorial one to “build an enduring legacy of Vanessa’s achievements.”

So far, $125,000 has been raised for the Vanessa Hardman Law Memorial Scholarship, with donors in Europe, Australia and North America contributing. 

Dominic says he and the Hardman family are humbled by the generosity: “We can never thank anyone enough, because it means Vanessa’s name will live on.”

“She gave life everything,” he says. “The fact that she never gave up sends an important message to future scholars that you have to cherish life.”

“Hopefully they can learn from her and become a better person.”

Professor George Williams, Dean of UNSW Law, says the scholarship will inspire the recipient “to emulate the achievements of Vanessa by embarking on a rewarding and inspiring international career.”

“I’d like to profoundly thank the husband of Vanessa Hardman, Dominic Spacie, the Hardman family, and the UK Foundation of UNSW Australia, particularly Paul Koffel, for their generosity to set up the Scholarship in Vanessa’s memory,” says Williams.  

Having created the scholarship, the University is now focused on establishing an endowed fund of $500,000 that would ensure many more generations of UNSW Law students will benefit from the Vanessa Hardman Law Memorial Scholarship. To contribute to this worthwhile fund and help continue Vanessa’s inspirational legacy in perpetuity, please contact Ivan Shin on 0435 579 056 or i.shin@unsw.edu.au.

The Vanessa Hardman Law Memorial Scholarship

The recipient of the inaugural scholarship in 2018 will receive $20,000 for up to five years, and an additional $25,000 in their final year to cover the cost of travel and accommodation while studying at King’s College London or another approved university in the UK. The scholarship will also have a built-in mentorship program and work experience placement at a top international law firm in London, to ensure students receive intellectual support in addition to financial support. For more information on the scholarship visit: https://www.scholarships.unsw.edu.au/scholarships/id/1223/3623