The Trust is funded from the bequests of a number of benefactors to provide help, to Whitchurch residents who may be suffering financial difficulties, including the elderly, infirm or disabled.

The trustees work closely with local organizations, particularly the Churches, schools and the Citizens Advice Bureau, to identify anyone who may need help.
The Trust also distribute gifts and money at Christmas.

Additionally the trustees are keen to help anyone, embarking on further education or training courses, who may require financial assistance. A special fund, called The Richard Woollaston Bursary Fund, has been set up for this purpose.

Organisations and individuals may apply by writing to:

The Secretary
Whitchurch Welfare Trust
c/o The Town Hall
Newbury Street
Whitchurch
RG28 7DW

or by email at WHITCHURCH WELFARE TRUST

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FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE TRUST

The Whitchurch Welfare Trust. (Registered no. 204378)

History and Background

The Whitchurch Welfare Trust was set up under a Scheme prepared by The Charity Commissioners, in July 1968. The main object of the Trust is:

“to relieve either generally or individually persons resident in the area of the Ancient Parish of Whitchurch who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress”.

The Scheme is an amalgamation of six earlier charities –

1 The James Thomas Bingham Blanket Trust, dated 1951 – £500.
2 The James Thomas Bingham Coal Trust, dated 1951 – £500.
(Both the above set up by Cecilia Ann Binghams’s will, in memory of her father.)
3 The charity of George Twynam, dated 1846 – £200.
To provide bread for poor people.
4 The charity of William Walton, Junior, dated 1844 – £50.
5 The charity of Constance Blyth Watson, dated 1934 – £100.
6 A share (3/10ths) of the bequest of Richard Woollaston’s will, dated 1688.
Settled by a deed of lease dated 30th March, 1705, the endowment comprised three tenths of the clear income of the estate charity of Richard Woollaston (which, in 1705, amounted to £30 p.a. out of a total legacy of £100 p.a.).

In addition, there was a subsidiary charity for the Maintenance of Roadside Seats, also founded by Cecilia Ann Bingham in memory of her father, J.T.Bingham J.P.
Seven of the eight seats (or their replacements) can still be found around the town, particularly on Newbury Hill where there are two seats which still bear the original commemorative plaque. Sadly all the other plaques are gone. Maintenance of the seats is now the responsibility of the Town Council.

By 1968, the year of amalgamation, the value of the first five charities had been significantly eroded by inflation, and the only charity to represent any real value was The Richard Woollaston Bequest.

The Richard Woollaston Charity

This charity was founded by a codicil (dated 27th February, 1689) to Richard Woollaston’s will dated 1688. The codicil left:

“a hundred pounds a yeare for poore distressed people to buy cloth to cloth(e) such of them as really want clothing and are by my exequeter really judged to feare God tho’ of different opinions …….. soe long as any of my estate lasts ”.

The codicil did not specify how this money was to be raised or paid. The “exequeter” was his son John, who unfortunately died a year or two later, without having made any arrangements to set up the charity.

After a number of appeals before the Attorney General, it was decreed in 1705 that £2,000 (a substantial amount, in today’s values) should be taken from the estate, and invested in two farms to generate rental income of £100 p.a. This income was to be used to buy cloth for poor people in accordance with the codicil, in the name of The Richard Woollaston Estate Charity. The court also decided that the £100 should be apportioned between three parish groups, of which Whitchurch should get three tenths – £30.00 p.a. The basis of the apportionment is not stated in the decree but may relate to places where Richard Woollaston lived or worked throughout his life.

The story was told by John Clarke, well-known local solicitor in his day, and one of the original trustees, of how his grandfather, Spencer Clarke, used to sit at a table outside the Town Hall, once a year, surrounded by yards of cloth, and ask poor people passing, “Do you fear God?” If the answer was “Yes” he gave them a yard of cloth!

Over the years, the original farms were sold and, in the early part of the 20th century, the proceeds were invested in property leases. As these leases matured, the Richard Woollaston Charity began to accumulate significant amounts of capital, and in 2005 this capital was distributed to the three beneficiary charities. The Whitchurch Welfare Trust received over £250,000 capital, compared to the £600 which its original share was worth in 1705!

The Whitchurch Welfare Trust

The management of the Trust, which is set out in its governing document, is by a board of eight trustees. The vicar of All Hallows is a permanent ex officio trustee, four others are appointed for four years by the Town Council, and three are co-opted for five years by the chairperson. The trustees are all voluntary appointments. Finally, there is the Clerk to the Trustees, who is not a trustee, and receives a small honorarium. The Clerk maintains the secretarial records.

The trustees work with the C.A.B, local churches, schools and other groups to identify individuals who are in need. The trustees also encourage applications for financial assistance from young people and mature students starting courses of study or training. Total investment income is currently in the region of £10,000 p.a. At Christmas, the Trust distributes approximately half its income as “Christmas Cheer” in the form of small gifts of money, flowers or fruit etc to individuals, including people who are ill or have been recently bereaved, and to local community organisations in the form of donations. The balance of the income is awarded to individuals in the form of education and hardship grants throughout the year. The sizes of the grants awarded vary considerably depending on individual circumstances but will typically range from £50 to £500.

The Trust advertises in the Parish Magazine from time to time, and on the Town website. Information leaflets are displayed in local churches, the Town Hall, and the library. One of the objectives of the trustees is to make the work of the Trust as widely known as possible in the local community.

The Trust’s investments are managed by a firm of national stockbrokers with an office in Newbury. The Trust Accounts are subject to annual examination by local accountants, Wheeler & Co. Copies of the annual accounts and governing document are held in the Whitchurch Library.
Details of the Trust’s constitution etc. can also be viewed on the Charity Commission website.

The Future

For the future, the Trust’s objectives include maintaining the value of the investments in real terms, while continuing to fully support its charitable activities. This may also involve attracting additional endowments from time to time, through making the Trust’s activities better known. Richard Woollaston made his bequest “soe long as any of my estate lasts” and part of the Trustees’ responsibilities are to the hand the Trust over to the next generation in as sound a financial state as possible.

Prepared by Martin Watson, Hon. Treasurer, The Whitchurch Welfare Trust.
November 2010.

For further information, write to – The Chairman, The Whitchurch Welfare Trust,
c/o TheTown Hall, Newbury St., Whitchurch. RG28 7DW