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The Bowyers' Charitable Trust


The Bowyers' Charitable Trust receives financial contributions from Company members to which the Company adds income from our Charity Capital Fund and a proportion of the Company's operating surplus, allowing the Bowyers to make a series of worthwhile donations every year. The total figure for annual giving has doubled in the last five years and with firm plans to increase it, the Bowyers are, in a small way, helping to make a real difference.

The Trustees and the Bowyers' Charity Committee work hard, on behalf of the Company, to ensure that our relatively modest charitable donations of a few thousand pounds here and there meet a real need and make a real difference. To achieve that requires a judicious and targeted approach to ensure that donations, and our chosen main areas of focus are currently:

History of the Trust

The Company is proud of its charitable tradition which dates back to mediaeval times, when support was given to families of members of the trade who had become impoverished. This tradition survived for a long time; as recently as 1919 when the Court approved a grant to Mrs Brodie Smith, the daughter of a past Master, who had fallen on hard times as a result of illness. Today, the Company has an Almoner who, among his other duties, maintains contact with Company members and their families in the event of sickness or bereavement.

On his death in 1629 James Wood, a past Master, became the Company's most significant benefactor. The Court minutes have frequent references to disbursements made under the terms of his Will, including Exhibitions to Oxford and Cambridge Universities until it was necessary to wind up the scheme in the 1980s. The most important original source of the Company's charitable funds was the revenue and eventual sale proceeds of James Wood's Manor at Isley Walton in Leicestershire. Over the years the Company donated funds to the poor of Isley Walton and provided support to the village schoolteacher until 1889, when the estate was sold. Donations were also made to the village church and its organ. This activity continued into the 1990s when a further donation was made to the organ fund.

Financial support was given to other educational activities associated with the City. In 1881 a donation of 100gns was made to the "City & Guilds" of London Institute for the advancement of technical education. This sum was topped up from time to time. Today, senior members of the Company are involved in the governance of Central Foundation Girls' School in Bow and are also trustees of the Central Foundation Schools of London. Donations are also made from time to time to the City of London Girls' School and other educational projects.

1879 saw the beginning of the Company disbursing funds to hospitals in London, with a donation to the London and Charing Cross Hospital. Over the years, further donations were made to the London Hospital for Nervous Diseases, Miss Wardell's Convalescent Home for Scarlet Fever Patients, Westminster Ophthalmic Hospital, the Farringdon General Dispensary, the East London Hospital for Children, Shadwell, St Thomas's Hospital, and the Home for Confirmed Invalids.

The Company's support for the Lord Mayor's appeals started in 1877 when funds were given to alleviate a famine in India, followed by donations to support the London Agricultural Exhibition and the fund for the relief of distress in the West Indian Islands caused by a hurricane. In 1906, the Company made a donation to the Treloar Fund for Christmas Hampers that were provided for "crippled children". Sir William Treloar became Lord Mayor of London in 1906. The Company continues the tradition with regular donations to Treloar's school and college in Hampshire, particularly in providing funds for special archery equipment; archery being a particularly "disabled-friendly" sport.

In 1882 the Company began its support for the armed forces with a donation of 25 guineas voted to support rifle shooting in the Army. This support continued until the Great War and eventually a silver cup was presented. The Company supports the armed forces today through its affiliations with HMS Northumberland and the Mercian Regiment. Support is given to the Army Benevolent Fund, the Royal British Legion, military charities focusing on post-traumatic stress and resettlement and elsewhere as the need arises.

During the First World War the Company made donations to a wide range of war-related charities. Examples will illustrate this breadth: The Blinded Soldiers and Sailors Fund, the Indian Soldiers Fund, the Waterloo Station Buffet for Soldiers, Employment of Ex Soldiers Fund, and the Endell Street Military Hospital. Donations were also made to the Church Army. The Company has continued to support those involved in armed conflict.

How the Trust Works

Applications for support are normally received by the Clerk, Chairman or a Committee member. They are then considered by the Charity Committee which meets four times a year. New bids are considered against those continuing disbursements which are made every year and the available funds. The Committee reviews the objectives of the applicant, the charity accounts and the likely purpose of the requested donation. If possible, the Committee likes to send a couple of members to make a visit before making a final decision. Successful applicants are informed by the Clerk of Chairman. Requests for grants from the Charitable Fund are welcome from any source in line with the objects of the Charitable Fund.

The Trust in Action Today

Follow the links below each section for more information.

Central Foundation Girls' School

Central Foundation Girls' School (CFGS) is a large, inclusive voluntary aided secondary school located in Bow, East London, catering for girls in the age range 11-18 years. Currently there are approximately 1520 students on role, 60% of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds and 50% do not have English as their first language. The vast majority of the pupils come from minority ethnic groups, principally from the Bangladeshi community, and the School remains at the centre of one of the nations most deprived boroughs.

Despite the above the School continues to achieve outstanding results at both GCSE and A level. In the Academic year 2018/2019, the Progress 8 score at GCSE placed the School in the top 5% of schools in the country, and the 6th Form within the top 10% of all 6th Form providers.  85% of the students went on to University (31% Russell Group) and the remainder went into Apprenticeships or other forms of further education.

The Company's association with the School sprung from an initiative set up by Sir Francis McWilliam when he was Lord Mayor in 1992/3 called LOGVEG (Livery October Group Voluntary Education Committee). Its purpose was to make Livery Companies relevant to the vocational and educational needs of young people.  Those Livery Companies who were not directly supporting schools were encouraged to find members from amongst their Livery who had the time and ability to serve as Governors of schools in the maintained sector, particularly within the deprived areas of Inner London such as Tower Hamlets. Past Master Peter Seaton felt this initiative to be particularly appropriate for our Company, and working with the City Education Officer, he became a Trustee of the Central Foundation Schools of London (CFSL) and shortly thereafter a Governor at CFGS.

Past Master Seaton gave an enormous amount of his time during his ten years or more as a Governor, particularly over the period from 2001 – 2004 when as Chairman of Governors he presided over two very important initiatives. Firstly, he oversaw the school's move from Voluntary Controlled to Voluntary Aided status and secondly he was a major force in negotiating and executing the School's participation in the London Borough of Tower Hamlet's (LBTH) Joint Schools PFI Project. This enabled the School to secure major new facilities, including in particular a new Sports Hall, all weather pitch, Dining Facilities and Kitchen and other major refurbishments. Past Master Seaton stood down as a Governor in 2008 but continues to support its events when he can.

The Company's current links with the School are maintained by Past Master Clive Arding, who became a Governor of CFGS in July 2004, and more recently by Court Member Lionel Green. Clive has served as Vice Chairman since 2009 and also chairs the Resources Committee. Lionel is able to bring his skills and experience to bear as he is currently a Bursar at a well-known independent School and sits on the Personnel Committee.

During his time as a Governor Clive has been significantly involved in developing and executing a strategy, initially conceived in Peter Seaton's time, which was for the School to be located on a "single site" rather than being split a mile or so apart between the Harley Grove and College Terrace Campus. Using his skills as a Chartered Surveyor and with the benefit of financial resources provided by the Trustees of CFSL, in 2007 he was able to secure a site on the opposite side of Harley Grove fronting Bow Road thus in practical terms adjacent to the main Harley Grove Campus.

Extensive negotiations were then undertaken with Tower Hamlets regarding the Borough and School's involvement in the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. As result a £21m phased redevelopment and refurbishment scheme of the Bow Road/Harley Grove campus was undertaken. This now provides the School with a new Sixth Form Centre, brand new Science laboratories, a state of the art Drama Hall, brand new Kitchen and Dining Facilities to accommodate all the pupils with much of the remaining parts of the school estate being refurbished and brought up to date.

The Charity Committee of the Company also makes a regular donation to the School for prizes, which are presented by our Master, and to support the School's hardship fund. A special additional donation to this fund has recently been agreed relating to hardship arising specifically from COVID-19.

Visit the Central Foundation Girls' School website

King's College London Widening Participation Programme and MA Programmes

The Bowyers have supported education since 1629, when James Wood, in his bequest to the Company required, amongst other legacies, three scholarships to be provided to Oxford University and two to Cambridge for sons of Freemen. If no such candidates, then to five poor scholars from Christ Church School or such other school as the Master and Wardens think fit.

Today our support for university education is focused on King's College London, where every year we sponsor two students who are studying for postgraduate degrees, one in History and one in the War Studies.  In addition to these two postgraduate students we also support King's K+ Programme. This programme is aimed at students from low income backgrounds and vulnerable groups.  Specifically, 16-year-old students from non-selective state schools in Greater London whose parents or carers have not themselves been to university. This represents an opportunity to those who otherwise might not get into a university and in many ways remains close to James Wood's original legacy to "the five poor scholars". The K+ programme is a two-year programme of events, activities and academic workshops created to help encourage and support the students with university application and provide the skills they need to succeed as an undergraduate student. The programme is outstandingly successful.  The most recent figures we have available, from a recent cohort on the programme, showed an overall progression rate to any university of 91.2% and even more impressively, of those who progressed to university, 56.6% enrolled at Russell Group universities. It is pleasing to think that after almost 400 years we are still helping students realise their potential.

Visit the King's College London K+ Programme website Visit the King's College London MA in History website Visit the King's College London MA in War Studies

Trealor's School

Treloar's started in 1907 when the then Lord Mayor of the City of London, Sir William Purdie Treloar, set up a 'Cripples' Fund' as his mayoral appeal. His aim was to build a hospital and school outside the city for children with non-pulmonary tuberculosis. In 1908, Sir William opened his school and hospital in Alton, Hampshire. A few years ago, the government made local authoroties responsible for caring for a lot of disabled youngsters in their own communities, which left places like Treloar's to look after the really disabled ones. The students at Treloar's are contending with the most complex disabilities and, with those disabilities come further conditions such as learning difficulties, visual impairments, no verbal communication, medical and dietary issues, lack of social awareness, mental health problems and life-limiting conditions. Treloar's has steadily grown and developed, becoming one of the country's leading providers of education, care, therapy, medical support and independence training for disabled young people. They take early learners from age 2, then through the school to 16, the Sixth Form to 18 and the College to age 25. Every child has a plan of what they can achieve and Treloar's helps them achieve that.

Over 98% of the students are wheelchair users, over 40% are non-verbal and require support from alternative communication equipment, 18% have visual impairments and 8% have degenerative or life-limiting conditions. Most of the chairs and other equipment are individually designed for each student and these need replacing and improving as the youngsters get older.   Treloars is partly funded by local authorities but they just pay for the basics and the City, carrying on from Sir William Treloar, including the Bowyers as part of the Livery, contribute towards the shortfall.

Visitors to Trealoars are often overwhelmed by the sense of community spirit and happiness there. The staff and volunteers help the youngsters achieve their individual aspirations and as young Sophie, the Student Governor said, "Alongside all the fun and community at Treloar's, we do get some academic work done! We thrive in our learning environment as we are all treated like adults".

Visit the Trealors website

The Sick Children's Trust

Tucked behind The Royal London Hospital in three converted houses is Stevenson House, operated by The Sick Children's Trust , the charity that gives families with a seriously ill child in hospital a comfortable place to stay and a friendly ear to listen, all free of charge. Due to the cost of accommodation these families from outside the area could not hope to stay in London while their children are undergoing treatment. For some years now the Bowyers Charity has supported the work of Stevenson House with a regular donation, and when we can we have contributed on a one off basis as well for a special and pressing need. The Charity has bought a state of the art fridge, paid for more suitable lighting and most recently has contributed to the provision of new beds to replace the old ones.

Stevenson House has been running for 16 years. In that time it has housed over 5000 families which equates to over 20000 nights of accommodation. The cost per family per night is £30 and the charity is wholly reliant on voluntary donations. We are the only livery company that currently supports The Sick Children's Trust, and we bolster our relationship with regular visits and written communications. From these contacts we know both the excellence of the service and how much it costs to maintain these properties. The bathrooms are due to be refurbished and the stairs and corridors decorated which will leave little change from £140,000. All of us who have been to Stevenson House are impressed and humbled by the dedication of the staff and the immensely important work that they do. 

Visit The Sick Children's Trust website

Suited & Booted

The Suited & Booted Centre is a delightful charity.  Based in the heart of the City, it takes in City workers' donations of business clothing (suits, shirts, ties, cufflinks, belts and shoes); it uses the clothing to kit out impoverished job-seekers to help them look the part for job interviews, then adds some interview coaching, and sends them out with confidence high. The job-seekers are referred to Suited & Booted by various public agencies and other charities; 2,000 of them were 'suited and booted' in 2019 (the photographs show some of there beneficiaries).  It's a highly worthwhile small charity that meets a real need and makes a real difference; it changes people's lives, and everyone who comes in contact with it is greatly impressed.

No money changes hands in either the donation of clothing or the kitting out of the job-seekers, and Suited & Booted relies on volunteer labour to do the fitting out and coaching.  It is however totally dependent on charitable donations, from City businesses and livery companies, to cover its premises and operating costs, and the Bowyers' Company is delighted to be one of its long-term supporters.


Each year the Master and members of our Charity Committee visit the Suited & Booted premises to meet their staff and present our cheque to their charismatic Principal, Dr Maria Lenn.  In addition, the charity organises several fund-raising activities each year, from tastings to quiz nights, which a number of individual Bowyers regularly support. Suited & Booted's current premises are at 4 London Wall Buildings in Blomfield Street, EC2M 5NT, and they will always welcome any of us donating any business attire we can, to help the cause. 

Visit the Suited & Booted website  

Brentwood Sea Cadets

Since 2015 the Bowyers have enjoyed a good charitable affiliation with the Brentwood Sea Cadets, initiated by Past Master Michael Wren. They meet twice a week for training evenings, with many skill-badges being earned. The photo below shows them proudly on parade in 2017 in the presence of the Royal Navy's National Captain of Sea Cadets, who was presenting them that evening with the Captain's Cup for being the third best Sea Cadet Unit in the country. The cadets have the opportunity to sign up for a week's crewing on the Navy's much-prized tall training ship TS Royalist. The week's cost per head is £300, which many of them can't afford; the Bowyers' Charitable Trust donates £1,500 per annum to fund six of them at £250, so that they only have to find £50 themselves. To hear the cadets talk about these weeks afterwards, they are clearly life-changing experiences for them, and very highly appreciated.

Visit the Brentwood Sea Cadets website

338 West Ham Squadron Air Cadets

The RAF's 100th anniversary in 2018 means a lot to our Liveryman Ben Glazier, whose grandfather Geoffrey Glazier was a WW1 RFC pilot and became a founder member of the RAF, and later became Master of the Bowyers: a good inspiration for us to add an Air Cadet unit in 2018 to our support of the Sea Cadets.

With few of the 28 Air Cadet units in the London area having Livery support, we chose 338 West Ham Squadron; their crest is a bow and arrow - borrowed from a Norwegian Air Force Fighter Squadron. After a low period, 338 Squadron is now rebuilding in the hands of livewire Flt Lt Billy Moore, who plans a rapid growth from 15 to 30 cadets, with music and archery among the weekly activities. We're providing an initial £1,000 for more arrows, archery instruction, music instruction and instrument repair.

On 14 April, the Master and Nigel Heilpern joined 338 and the other 27 London area units at their 'Inness Sword' team event at Crowborough camp: the competition disciplines included assault course, first aid, archery, navigation, drill, small bore shooting and stretcher-bearing. At the end of the day Flt Lt Billy introduced Nigel and the Master to the 338 cadets, and we celebrated our new charitable relationship with a formal exchange of plaques.

Visit the 338 West Ham Squadron Air Cadets website

British Blind Sports Archery

The Bowyers' Company sponsors the annual British Blind Sport Outdoor Archery Championships that take place each September in the magnificent National Sports Centre grounds at Lilleshall, near Telford. 15-20 of the UK's best visually impaired archers take part, competing with either recurve or compound bows.  The archers position their feet against a fixed footmark, and stand adjacent to a vertical metal stand which they can touch with their bow hand (but not rest on), to set themselves into a fixed stance. Each archer is accompanied by their own personal spotter or coach, who describes where the shot landed and advises any tiny adjustments to the stance or aim.  The most-impaired Category 1 archers like Stuart Rodgers, pictured here in 2017 with his Louth Club coach, shoot completely blacked out. Shooting at the 2016 event was a completely blind and deaf archer, John Nicholl from Northern Ireland, being coached (entirely by touch signals) by his friend Chris McFadyen, an ex-Royal Navy SBS man who had been wounded in action and fitted with a metal spine, and was himself an archery gold medalist at the 2016 World Invictus Games. As can be imagined, a huge amount of time is put in by their friends and families to help and encourage the blind archers, and it makes for a very moving social as well as sporting occasion.

Visit the British Blind Sport website

Wide Horizons

Wide Horizons is an outdoor adventure charity that aims to break the cycle of poverty for disadvantaged children, through inspirational outdoor learning experiences that teach them how to co-operate with others, take responsibility, and acquire the confidence and determination to overcome challenges. Nowadays it has 8 centres across the UK, but its original centre in Kent, Margaret McMillan House, the one we support, was specifically set up to benefit the schoolchildren of the boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham, with 7-8,000 of them coming through each year.

It originally had just a small indoor archery range, which the kids loved, but they wanted a proper outdoor range, with hut and shelter. The Bowyers funded this for them in 2015 at a cost of £6,500, the largest single-project donation we've ever made. The outdoor range has been a great success, with all those thousands of impoverished children and young people coming through each year from South East London schools.

We continue to support Wide Horizons' Margaret McMillan House with occasional grants for supplies of replacement bows, arrows and targets, and our contribution is clearly very much appreciated.

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