A passion for education and community runs through the Savva family of Ryde. Liz Savva encouraged her husband Tony and three children to be active and help wherever they could, and she led by example. Liz was a devoted primary school teacher and a reading-recovery specialist whose focus was students in 2nd to 4th class. “Teaching wasn’t a job for Liz, it was a vocation,” says her husband Tony Savva. “It was just her. She was naturally gifted.  She loved teaching kids and made everything fun in the classroom. She never roused on anyone.”

Besides reading and literacy, Liz’s great passions were her beloved Sydney Swans footy team, her netball, and the local chapter of Scouts where she was a leader for 15 years. As Tony says, “Liz took her teaching into Scouts and so many people learned from her.  There wasn’t a campfire song she didn’t know and couldn’t teach.”

Tony knew he was batting above his average the day Liz said ‘Yes’. “Liz and I were friends for a couple of years before we started dating.  It was 1988-89 and Liz was finishing her studies and starting her first teaching job in Lane Cove,” says Tony. “We were at a party, and the sparks just started flying. I was enamoured by her looks, her demeanour, the way she held herself and talked.  We never argued, and conversation between us was never difficult.”

In 2014, Liz was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she approached with her usual stoicism and positivity.  She continued her teaching at Blessed Sacrament Primary School in Clifton Gardens and relished family days out watching the Swans play at the SCG.  The family’s connection with the Sydney Swans runs deep.  The Cathy Lees Award is named in Liz’s sister’s honour.  Awarded for over 20 years to the most promising young talent at the Sydney Swans, it is a legacy to Cathy, the eldest of Liz’s four sisters, who lost her own breast cancer fight as a young woman.

As Liz’s cancer progressed and her health deteriorated, she started thinking of her own legacy. “Instead of flowers, Liz wanted books at her funeral that could be given to Indigenous children to read,” says Tony. “We sought some advice and decided that money given to an indigenous education foundation would be the most effective way to help, so we organised a way for friends and community to donate in Liz’s honour.”

Liz Savva died on 26 January 2019.  She was 51 years old. Liz had helped a generation of young Australians develop a love a learning and reading, and her students adored her always. “After Liz’s passing, a number of her students from her first teaching job in Lane Cove, where she was Miss Lees, reached out to tell us how Liz’s encouragement had transformed their learning,” says Tony.  “They are all grown up with families of their own but had followed her all these years.”

On what would have been Liz’s 52nd birthday on 8 June this year, the family got together to determine where best to donate the money given by family, friends, and members of the Ryde community in honour of Liz.  They chose the GO Foundation for its commitment to Indigenous education including primary school scholarships. Improving the lives of young Indigenous Australians was Liz’s passion. It is now her wonderful legacy to be treasured by GO.

Liz Savva and Family
Liz Savva and Family