Talbot Village Trust and how grants can help charities

PUBLISHED: 17:12 20 November 2013 | UPDATED: 14:37 25 March 2015

Youngsters enoying the new zip-wire ar Butcher's Coppice

Youngsters enoying the new zip-wire ar Butcher's Coppice


A charity founded in Bournemouth by two philanthropic sisters is still helping improve the lives of Dorset residents over a century later.

When the children at Fernheath Play’s Activity Centre in Bournemouth saw how their adventure playground had been transformed by a new four tower multi-play construction with zip wire their eyes lit up. For many years the Fernheath Play charity, the only fully inclusive ‘play and short breaks’ centre in the Bournemouth area for disabled, special needs and able-bodied children, had been struggling due to lack of funds.

So, a grant of £24,250 for the new structures from charitable organisation the Talbot Village Trust provided the proverbial lifeline.

Fernheath Play Association is typical of so many organisations who, in our currently economic climate, are struggling to provide vital services for Dorset’s dependent communities. The Talbot Village Trust is one of the area’s leading benefactors, and in this role it has been supporting charitable causes throughout East Dorset for over 100 years. Over the past 15 years alone, the Trust has distributed more than £12 million, equating to over £800,000 per year, but how can the Trust afford to offer such high levels of support?

In A History of Bournemouth, biographer and lecturer Elizabeth Edwards wrote about the Talbot sisters, Georgina Charlotte and Mary Anne. Wealthy, well-travelled and cultured, the sisters lived in Grosvenor Square, London until their family moved to Bournemouth’s fashionable East Cliff. The poverty in the area beyond the affluent cliff-tops, especially amongst the women and children, inspired Georgina to rent some land on the nearby moorland to provide paid agricultural work.

In 1850, she bought 465 acres of land and, by 1862, the estate included six farms and 16 cottages, seven almshouses, a school and a church. The vast estate was controlled by trustees and, over the succeeding years, more land was bought and sold, including the land for Bournemouth University. This policy continues to this day, and Elizabeth Edwards records: ‘Thus, the aims of these two remarkable ladies are perpetuated, whilst Talbot Village remains a sanctuary of beauty and peacefulness’.

As a result of the Trust’s careful investment programme and gradual sale of farmland for redevelopment, the Trustees are able to maintain and increase the value of the fund and, more crucially, continue to plough financial support back into the local community.

In recent years the Trust has supported hundreds of local charities a factor that Sir Christopher Lees, Chairman of the Trustees is very proud of: “It’s a privilege to be able to continue the legacy left by the Talbot sisters and it make a real difference to people’s lives.” No scheme is too big or too small for the Trust to consider as long as it is a capital project promoted by a charity, church, school, college or university in keeping with the sisters’ original objectives.

For example it could be for a village hall in need of a heating system, a housing association wishing to expand its portfolio, or a charity needing updated musical instruments. Typical of the Trust’s recent beneficiaries are two charitable nurseries, a local scout group and acoustic shooting facilities for the blind.

Cherry Tree Nursery in Bournemouth and Chestnut Nursery in Poole are both S.W.O.P (Sheltered Work Opportunities Project) nurseries providing work in a supportive environment for adults with severe and enduring mental illness. With the aim of using the therapeutic nature of horticulture to restore mental wellbeing, these charities offer a home, family, friendship and love against the safe backdrop of their large plant nurseries. Over the last 20 years the Trust has provided a total of £132,000 for Cherry Tree and £25,000 for the more recently launched Chestnut Nursery.

Cherry Tree is currently replacing its dilapidated sheds and Portacabins with eco-friendly permanent structures, and has recently completed a new tea room, kitchen, ‘rest and recreation’ facility and toilets. Every year Cherry Tree produces over 100,000 garden plants on their 4½ acre site and, I must say, the plants for sale are of the highest quality.

In 2004, aiming to become one of the best Centres of Excellence for youth in the UK, Butcher’s Coppice Scout Camp and Community Outdoor Centre launched an ambitious appeal to raise £1million to completely renovate its deteriorating facilities. The Trust donated £100,000 towards the scheme which was eventually completed in 2012. The centre provides facilities for thousands of young people, leaders, teachers and parents and, in 2011, a record 19,613 visitors used the Centre compared to 2,000 in 2003. Young visitors are now able to enjoy the new archery and indoor shooting range, a climbing/abseiling area, a ‘bouldering’ and rock wall, high ropes, a zip-wire and power descender plus a camp fire circle, BBQ area, trampolines and agility trail.

On a less ambitious level, the Dorset Blind Association opened a new acoustic shooting club at Canford School in November 2012, with a £6,800 grant from the Trust. Instead of taking aim through sights, a blind or visually impaired shooter listens to an audio signal that rises in pitch as the point of aim moves closer to the centre of the target.

This inspired invention was the brainchild of former Royal Marine Ray Gunning whose daughter suffered a major brain injury in an accident that left her blind. Prior to her accident she had been extremely competitive, so Ray started searching for new activities she could pursue. Discovering acoustic shooting, he approached the Dorset Blind Association to see if they could work together. The Association’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Holyhead, was delighted: “This is a very exciting development and we are extremely grateful to Canford School and the Talbot Trust for helping us to bring it into fruition. Acoustic shooting isn’t yet recognised as a paralympic sport but, if that changes, we could have a team ready for Rio in four years time”

Find out more

Anyone interested in applying for a grant can find more details on the Trust’s new website talbotvillagetrust.com. For further information contact Michelle Sammons on 07767 810481 or email michelle.sammons@carlyonbeach.com

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