Trust Ethos

A personal reflection

In 2004 Bill Kirkman, one of the longest serving Trustees wrote:

When I joined the Trust in 1969 five of my fellow Trustees had known Sir Halley. Four were his grandchildren. One, the chairman, Pat Winfrey, had worked with him, as secretary, and later Treasurer, of the Trust from 1928.

They had a deep sense of what the founder would have felt, what he would have wanted. The words of the Trust Deed were more than the legal basis of the Trust; they were a true reflection of its purpose as envisaged and set out by Sir Halley.

When we considered an application they looked at it, instinctively, with that purpose in mind. Was it pioneering work? Did it involve promising young research students? Did it provide “a means by which ‘the mind of Christ’ might be applied to extending the kingdom of God by the prevention and removal of human misery”?

This deep concern with the ethos of the Trust as it had been conceived by Sir Halley gave its work a very special flavour, and one which, as a newcomer, I found most attractive. There were important implications. Trustees took a strong personal interest in many of the projects which we supported. We could take personal pleasure when they were successfully completed.

Professor Harold Stewart (now sadly dead) was the last of that group who knew Sir Halley. At his last meeting as chairman (in June 1986) I spoke on behalf of my fellow Trustees of his great commitment to the aims of the founder, and I recalled that, as a former Professor of Pharmacology who had come to his chair after some years as a GP, he always had an interest in people, not just in disease.

The lasting tribute to the vision of Sir Halley, and to the dedication of those who had the privilege of knowing and working with him, is that the ethos of the Trust remains. The Trustees are still strongly aware of the values he held and the purposes he had in mind when establishing the Trust. Trustees still hope to take a personal interest in the projects – not always, but remarkably often. 

Of course rigorous standards in choosing and monitoring projects are applied, but, thankfully, we have not forgotten that the Trust was established to make people’s lives better.