2014 was a record year for the Waltham St Lawrence Charities in which we made grants, all to residents in the parish or to organisations that benefit the parish, totalling £33,500. I believe that is the largest amount ever paid out in a year by the Charities. It was also paid out against a background where our reserves actually grew during the year, thanks mainly to an increase in the value of our stock market investments.
The annual distribution in January 2014 to qualifying residents represented as usual the main allocation of funds. Under this distribution a total of £14,500 was disbursed to 46 people.
Our next largest allocation of funds in 2014 was for grants under our Further Education Scheme. The purpose is to assist young people in the parish who have left school and are in, or are about to be starting, further education or training, such as university, college or an apprenticeship. 19 individuals, all residents in the parish, received a total of £8,350 in grants under the scheme.
The Bell is the Charities' principal asset and the Trustees are very appreciative of the way in which Scott and Iain Ganson continue to manage it as a successful and popular enterprise while at the same time maintaining its traditional atmosphere. Fortunately only a small amount of work was required to be carried out on the Bell during 2014. Towards the end of the year the kitchen roof at the back of the Bell was found to need attention that would involve the closure of the kitchen for some days. To reduce disruption to business this work was carried out after the year end and accordingly does not properly form part of this report.
Ongoing projects to which the Charities have remained committed during the year include help with transport and the provision of Lifeline personal alarms. Help with transport comprises two elements: a taxi service, and the People to Places bus service which the Charities subsidise for visits to Morrisons in Bracknell and Waitrose in Twyford on an alternate weekly basis. I would like once again publicly to extend the thanks of the Trustees to Mrs Margaret Railton and Mrs Peggy Smith for all they do in organising the People to Places service. A donation was made to the Twyford Volunteer Drivers to help with their running costs as they have provided transport to hospitals and doctors' surgeries for a number of residents in the Parish.
The Charities made a contribution towards a new audio-visual system in the parish church and also a contribution to the cost of a children's coordinator. They also funded the purchase of some iPads for children with special educational needs at the school, as well as continuing to provide the Newbery Reading Prizes for the school.
Those who use the footpaths in the village may well have noticed that we have re-fenced and tidied up the field behind the Star, known as Sue's Piddle, which the Charities own.
I would personally like to thank my fellow Trustees for their hard work, unstintingly given, in achieving the Charities' results during 2014. I would like also to pay tribute to the great contribution to the Charities of Sir Noel Davies who died in February this year and who was my predecessor as Chairman of the Charities for nearly 10 years.
The Trustees continue to look for new opportunities for providing financial support in the parish. If you believe there is an individual in need or a worthwhile charitable cause in the parish please do not hesitate to get in touch with me or with one of the other Trustees. We welcome suggestions!