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Review of 2017

The days seem to fly by! We now have three full years under our belt since we set up the Foundation in late 2014. 2017 turned out to be yet another eventful and challenging year.

We remain focused on supporting charities and not-for-profit organisations that make a meaningful difference to people’s lives.

During the year we have made grants totalling £8197.30 which although down on budget and expectations does not take account of some exciting projects that are not yet at approval stage. We have had our disappointments this year with the proposals involving Willowbrook hospice and Alzheimers Research UK not bearing any fruit and the Thussanang project in South Africa having stalled. However there are new projects at various stages that we are confident will mature over the next 12 months.

Grants made during 2017 include:

  • Infosound, a small charity in Brighton, provides a free news and information service, inaudio, to over 25,000 blind and partially-sighted people across Great Britain. The hub of their operation is a recording and audio studio which is housed in a converted garage.

    Rowland Myers in the studio

    The audio equipment was old and becoming unreliable and given the improvements in technology was unable to deliver the modern service now needed by its target audience. We worked with Rowland Myers, the managing editor, to construct a “matched funding” grant whereby the Foundation would meet the major share of the cost of replacing audio studio kit on their priority list subject to Infosound raising the balance of funds from other supporters. The project worked very well with Infosound raising £1000 and the Foundation making a grant of £3388.60 (77% of the total) to enable the new kit to be purchased. The new equipment has had a major impact not only in making the output more reliable but in improving quality and opening up new opportunities to expand the service. We visited Rowland and the trustees of Infosound in October and were greatly impressed by the new studio and what they are doing for the blind and partially sighted. We are currently in advanced discussions with Infosound to make a second “matched funding” grant to replace the remainder of the old studio kit. Having modern equipment will mean a significant upgrading in the technology which in turn means delivering a more adventurous service with greater access. They are already planning for a new audio “magazine” addition to their programme. Exciting times at Infosound and we are pleased to be building a long term relationship with this excellent charity. More to report next year.

  • We made small grants to the Wild Goose Café in Bristol run by Crisis Centre Ministries to

    Wild Goose Cafe

    help the homeless and the Conor Kerin Memorial Fund which is focused on tackling Strep A disease in children.

  • Other grants went to the Marie Curie hospice in Liverpool, Children in Need, Prostate Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK, Royal British Legion and Down’s Syndrome Association in Northern Ireland.

 

  • Our own Waldorf Experience programme continues to prosper with “Afternoon Tea with

    We will Rock you!

    Song & Music” events being held during the year at Windermere School and St John’s Academy Marlborough. Our new offering is the Waldorf Concert with a wine and canapes reception followed by a musical programme to meet all tastes. Two very successful concerts were held at Windermere and Marlborough. The feedback was excellent and we are inspired to repeat the concerts in 2019. We are already planning our “afternoon teas” for 2018.

 

learning & having fun

Progress on getting a project in place to support Thussanang Centre for Disabled Children in the small community of Huhudi near Vryburg South Africa has been slow. Discussions with our partners Windermere School to secure the future of the centre have been extremely constructive with the school raising substantial funds for the project. However getting the right structure in place in South Africa with Tiger Kloof is challenging. Our chairman, Jo Parry, is visiting Thussanang and Tiger Kloof in February and part of her agenda is to get this project back on track with some momentum behind it. We hope to have something positive to report in 2018.

We worked with Willowbrook on a project to create an outdoor garden room with an extensive planting scheme at their hospice in Prescot, Merseyside. Regrettably this has not developed into a robust proposal and we are unable to support them. However we made a small grant towards a scheme to improve the existing garden. We have learned many lessons from this project which hopefully will improve our approach to main grant proposals.

In 2016 we approved a main grant to the Institute in the Park to buy an advanced EVOS imaging system to support their research. Dr Brian Flanaghan’s blog updating what is happening at the Institute in the Park makes for very good reading. We will be meeting with Brian and his team in 2018 to explore how we can support them in the vital research into childhood illnesses.

We are in early discussions with Branch, a company in Bath, on a joint project to support a good cause in or around the city. We are confident that we will have a robust proposal in place for 2018.

Our Annual Report & Accounts for 2016-17 were filed with the Charity Commission on 13 October. Our strategies and more detailed information about the Foundation can be accessed from our web site. During 2017 we received donations of £49,938 including Gift Aid reclaimed.

The endowment fund stands at £364,784 in investments with deposits and cash of £45,308 making a grand total of £410,092. Our investments have performed well over 2017 with dividends and interest of £2,551 and capital appreciation of £48,099 as at 31 December 2017.

Our strong financial position means we are very positive about the future. Building a sizeable Expendable Endowment Fund is a key element of our strategy as it will secure future grant budgets. We must not get complacent about the excellent performance of our investments. Our view is that stock markets across the globe are probably over valued and some correction is likely in the medium term. Falls in stock markets will inevitably hit the value of our investments. However given the size of our Endowment Fund and the continuing support from donors we are confident that we can maintain an annual grant budget of £20,000 for at least the next 10 years.

We are pleased with our progress although we have had some setbacks this year. Our Foundation is here for the long term. We as trustees keep reminding ourselves that so long as there are people deprived of their basic needs there is a job for us to tackle. Our challenge is to make a contribution, however modest, in “making a meaningful difference to people’s lives”. Bring on 2018!