The memory of the Madonna of Athlone will live on in the hearts of her family and friends, and those who will benefit from a bursary fund started in her honour.
The late Bronwyn van Graan made her mark not only as an actress, but also a humanitarian, and it was for this reason that her family and friends decided the best way to honour her memory, was to start a bursary fund.
She was also known by her nickname, Peach, and many described her as the Madonna of Athlone.
On what was supposed to have been her 40th birthday celebration, her loved ones gathered on Sunday November 25, to share their memories and agreed that a bursary fund is the most appropriate way to honour her. Peach died on Saturday March 31.
She was the one of the founding members of the non-profit organisation, Party with a Purpose Productions (PPP), and it was decided that the organisation will manager the Peach Bursary Fund.
Her friend and co-founder of PPP, Chad Abrahams, said a monetary collection was made at her funeral, with the idea of using it for charity.
“Her cousin wanted to start something to honour her legacy, and later we then came up with the idea. Bronwyn was extremely passionate about education and people development. If she was busy shooting a movie in Elsies River, for example, she would be more involved with the local children and take an interest in their well-being. We did educational roadshows together. At the moment, we are doing a campaign on Facebook and WhatsApp to inform people about it,” Mr Abrahams said.
He added that the official launch of the bursary fund will happen on the anniversary of her death – March 31 next year.
“That is when applications will open. We now have to cleverly invest the money we currently have, so that it can grow. The plan is to get 100 actors to contribute R50 a month. We will also be doing fundraisers, and the idea is to have an annual ‘Peach Day’ on her birthday, where we will have a concert as part of the fundraising. Depending on how the contributions go, we plan to do one full bursary, or give a few students a part bursary. The bursary will be open to those students studying in the Faculty of Humanities – so those in the music, drama and fine arts,” he said.
Mr Abrahams shared a 25-year friendship with Peach, and described her as “nothing short of an angel”.
“In all the years that I have known her, I have never seen her angry. We never had an argument. Where ever she went, she was loved. The way she lived, she was nothing short of an angel. Virtue would be the one word to describe her. If you came to her with problems, you always left feeling better. This is why we want to celebrate her life.”
Peach was a versatile actress, and started her career as one of the students of the Creative School of Speech and Drama, which was started by Nazli George. She also studied drama at the University of Cape Town, and was part of Bush Radio’s Canada Youth Exchange Programme. Peach also did radio dramas on SAFM, and received a Naledi Award for her stage performance in Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. Her face also became familiar on television screens, when she played the role of the social worker in the soapie 7de Laan. Peach was also well known in children’s theatre and educational theatre productions.