At my installation last night as chairman of Horsham District Council, I announced the establishment of a new charity to be known, at least initially, as the Chairman’s Trust Fund.
It will be Horsham District’s own charity designed to provide help to people in need throughout the district who are not able to count on the existing charitable and support structures.
The intention is that applications for assistance will be made by individual councillors from their local knowledge of people in need and their applications will be considered by the trustees of the fund.
At the present time, it is proposed that the trustees will be Horsham District Council’s chairman, vice-chairman, immediate past chairman, the chief executive, the chief financial officer, the editor of the West Sussex County Times and the Vicar of Horsham, the Rev Canon Guy Bridgewater.
Mr Bridgewater is to be my chaplain for the forthcoming year and has offered to give considerable support for fundraising events for the new charity.
I am particularly thrilled to have the support of the County Times and the editor’s personal support which I believe will be massively important in establishing the new charity, raising funds and identifying those who need help.
We are now in the process of going through the formalities of establishing the new charity which will need a £5,000 turnover in order to allow us to make application for registration with the Charities Commission.
To help us achieve this, a number of events are in preparation including a piano concert and also a civic carol service which I hope will become a regular feature of the council calendar.
It is crucial that our new charity is up and running as soon as possible. Time passes quickly and I would anticipate Christmas being a time when potential demands on the charity are likely to be at their greatest.
Looking to the future, I would hope we could consider the possibility of some help to small locally-based charities, although this will have to be carefully thought through so as not to cut across the help which the council already provides to a number of local good causes. My previous experience as Mayor of Reigate and Banstead convinced me that a few hundred pounds given to a small local charity can do an amazing amount of good.
My hope is that the new charity will have the additional advantage of helping to foster a sense of district awareness and thereby help contribute to genuine localism.
A year passes all too quickly, but I hope in a year’s time to be able to report that the Chairman’s Trust Fund is established and thriving.
If so, it will be due to the many people who will have helped to make it happen. In hopeful anticipation, I extend my thanks to them all.