Interview with Sidcot Building Trust Fund

About sixty years ago, a handful of brave Sidcotians got together to establish this amazing fund. So we can look after our beloved school for generations to come.

Can you remember where this plaque can be found in school? Can you remember where this plaque can be found in school?

Interview
A chat with the Hon. Manager (John Highfield, Old Scholar, Class of 1961) of Sidcot Building Trust Fund

Joanna Hodnett (alumni and development manager at Sidcot School, also Old Scholar, Class of 2004) –

Thank you so much for your time John.
My first question, what is the purpose of  the Sidcot Building Trust Fund (SBTF)?

John –

The objectives of SBTF are to accumulate funds to help maintain the built fabric of Sidcot School and to help the School provide new and state of the art buildings into the future.

Joanna – 

What is Sidcot Building Trust Fund?

John –

SBTF is an independent registered charity set up in 1958 by Sidcotians (Old Scholars and former Sidcot parents). It is run entirely by Old Scholar volunteers. The committee currently comprises of eight Old Scholars of whom four are Trustees who carry legal responsibility for the financial management of the fund. 

Joanna – 

Where does the money come from?

John – 

In 1958 the fundraising launch was made to Old Scholars and their parents, inviting them to join the efforts by giving £1 every year by Standing Order; the phrase ‘a £1 a brick' was coined! This basic approach continues to this day with many Sidcotians now giving more than the inflation updated ‘£20 a brick'. In addition, Old Scholars donate sums via gifts and legacies.

Joanna –

So what happens to the money?

John –

The vision for the fund is long term and open ended. Large sums are needed by the School from time to time for new and replacement buildings such as the Arts Centre. The future planning and financial management of the money donated is undertaken by our four Trustees. In practice, this involves them in investment decisions mainly in commercial shares bought on the London Stock Exchange. The response to a request from the School Management for a grant is made collectively by the SBTF committee.
 

Joanna –

That is all very clear, but when does the school benefit from all this generosity and voluntary effort?

John –

The annual increase in the size of the fund from subscriptions and donations is relatively small when we remember that the School may need, say, £1 million for a new development. For example, SBTF granted an enabling £1 million towards the cost of the Arts Centre. Regular consultation with the School for its building plans informs SBTF when, ideally, a grant of money would be beneficial.

The SBTF Trustees invest the income from the Fund's portfolio with the objective to achieve growth by the time when funding is needed for a given school project. That is the aim but owing to the vagaries of stock markets and world economic events (Brexit anyone?) it cannot always work out perfectly, but that is the principle.


Joanna –

All very neat. The fund has been running now for almost sixty years, can you give examples of grants that have been made over that time?

John –

Yes, a total of £1,331,500 was granted between 1961 and 2007.
Here are the projects assisted :-

Year                                            Building                                                                       Grants
1961                             Meeting House Extension                  £1,500
1970                             6th Form Study Block                         £5,000  
1992                             Swimming Pool                                  £100,000 
1999                             Classrooms in Trevelyan Library     £150,000 
2006                             Classrooms in the Junior School     £75,000
2007                             Sidcot Arts Centre                              £1,000,000

Joanna –

Very impressive. In closing, what would you say to everyone in the Sidcot community (about Sidcot School and Sidcot Building Trust Fund)?

John –

If you love Sidcot School and wish it to have an even brighter future, as I do, please consider joining us as an annual subscriber, or making a single donation. Also, where appropriate include SBTF in your will knowing that those who leave a will live longer than those who pass away intestate.

During the past fifty years our contributors mainly came from members of SOSA (Sidcot Old Scholars' Association). Today, with the setting up of Sidcotians, with access to social media gives opportunity to at least double the number of our contributors. It is our hope that this conversation about the Trust will persuade many more Sidcotians to contribute.

If any guidance is needed please do telephone, write or email me. 
020 7589 8830 
john.highfield8@btopenworld.com

Finally, thank you Joanna and the Sidcotian Office, for giving Sidcot Building Trust Fund the opportunity to explain our endeavours to Sidcotians!