STRATFORD Town Trust handed out over £1million in grants last year.
The trust’s AGM heard 139 discretionary grants were made in 2015 worth a total of £1.13million.
The largest grants were £230,600 for Stratford ArtsHouse; £70,000 for the Citizens Advice Bureau’s Reach Out and Help programme – tp take its work out into the community; £66,055 for the Parenting Project – to support its work with Stratford families; and £57,124 to support the Shakespeare Hospice’s Young People’s Service.
Stratford College and every school in Stratford received support too – with a total of £311,008 being awarded.
Non-discretionary grants are awarded too. In 2015 this amounted to £754,000 – with £614,000 going to King Edward VI School and the remainder supporting the Almshouses, Vicar of Holy Trinity and the Guild Chapel.
The trust is a registered charity, which derives its income from the properties and funds of two charities, the Guild and College estates, whose origins go back to the thirteenth century.
The AGM heard the trust’s combined portfolio was worth £53.7million – £300,000 more than at the end of 2014.
Chief Executive Helen Munro spoke about the difference the Trust’s grants make – from sums like the £35,000 awarded to support the redevelopment of Stratford Boat Club, right down to the £350 awarded to Soroptomist International, to plant flower beds at Stratford Hospital’s Nicol Unit.
Mrs Munro also reported on the success of the trust’s £1million CommYOUnity Challenge, with Tyler House, The Old Slaughterhouse and the Community Athletics Pavilion all now benefitting townspeople.
She spoke of the exciting times ahead for the Guild Chapel – £100,000 having been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a major project to conserve and showcase the Chapel’s wall paintings.
She also said 2016 had been a special year of celebration for the trust – including welcoming 230 guests for a free Afternoon Tea to mark the 400th Shakespeare Anniversary back in April, and supporting 34 community parties to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday this summer.
The trust has also played a key role in bringing a £6m investment to town through the creation of Hotel Du Vin, set to open in Rother Street in 2017 – and in securing the £30m redevelopment of Bell Court, also set to open next year.
Fordham House will open in 2017 too – bringing key worker accommodation to Stratford for the first time.
There has also been controversy, including the sale of historic Mason’s Court. Members were told the trust had approached English Heritage and the Landmark Trust before deciding to auction the grade II-listed property on Rother Street. Members were also told they would be kept informed over the future of a house in Benson Road, which had been earmarked for demolition and the building of more homes, until planning permission as refused.
Quentin Willson – attending his first AGM as trustee took the opportunity to speak to the membership ‘from the other side’ – saying while he had been a vocal campaigner against the trust’s aborted plans to develop the 7.8 acres at Rowley Fields, becoming a trustee had given him a new perspective.
He said: “This is a body that is really committed to the good of Stratford – every single year over £1m is given to the community and it’s very easy to forget that.”
It was Mrs Munro’s last AGM, ahead of her retirement in August. A new chief executive is set to be announced shortly.
Visit www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk for further details.