New Mayor of Harwich launches fund for the town

20th May 2021

An important part of the history of Harwich is being celebrated with the launch of a new charitable fund that will provide support for local charities, voluntary organisations and community groups working in the Harwich and Dovercourt area for years to come.

The Mayflower Legacy Fund has been set up by Cllr Ivan Henderson, who has devoted almost three decades to public service in Harwich. Ivan is a former MP for Harwich, a district and town councillor, and became Mayor of Harwich on 20 May.

The fund, which will be managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF) has been named after the Mayflower which was registered in Harwich and, 400 years ago, was sailed from England to America.

Although many of the planned celebrations for the Mayflower’s anniversary have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Ivan’s hopes of establishing a fund to support local charities have become a reality.  He is county councillor for Harwich and has launched his fund with £10,000, an allocation given to all county councillors to invest in their communities.

“I wanted to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Master Christopher Jones’ sea voyage aboard the Mayflower and to create something that will support local charities and will last beyond the anniversary year,” said Ivan.

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to launch the Mayflower Legacy Fund and I am delighted that my allocation of £10,000 from Essex County Council and further donations to the fund will be match-funded through the Proceeds of Crime Matched Funding Scheme, which is managed by ECF with support from Essex Police.  This means that for every £2 donated, £1 will be added.  If gift aid can be claimed this is matched as well, which means the original donation is nearly doubled.

“The fund will have a link to the ongoing maritime history of Harwich and, importantly, will build up over time and create a legacy that will support and benefit local people for years to come.

“There are so many local organisations who have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and they really need extra support. A lot of children and young people will be facing difficult issues and the fund will help them and enable them in turn to become involved and make a positive contribution to their community.”

Ivan has lived in Harwich for all of his life and worked at the docks for 20 years. He has to date completed 28 years public service, is now a transport consultant and is prominent in promoting tourism in Harwich.

He said: “All my Mayoral fundraising will go into the Mayflower Legacy Fund. I am hoping to encourage businesses and individuals to regularly contribute and have already had support committed from Milsom Hotels and Harwich Haven Authority.

“By doing this together we can build a financial resource for local charities and voluntary groups working in Harwich and Dovercourt to tap into and which will provide ongoing support, particularly for organisations that are contributing to community safety and those working with children and young people.”

Ivan is looking forward to a busy year and is delighted that the Harwich Sea Festival in August will host one of the major Mayflower 400th anniversary events postponed from last year.

He is planning to give a grant from the Mayflower Legacy Fund so that 10 local young people nominated by local charities can take part in a voyage from Harwich to Portsmouth organised by the Tall Ships Sailing Trust.

For more information and to make a donation to the Fund visit Ivan’s JustGiving page at

Apply for a grant here or call the ECF team on 01245 356018 to discuss your charitable work.