Essex Community Foundation

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Legacy to keep local charities afloat

28th July 2020

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 Ivan Henderson (pictured right), who has devoted almost three decades to public service in Harwich.

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 this year's 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.

“It is a shame that many of the anniversary celebrations can't take place in 2020, but some have been postponed until next year.

“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, a former MP for Harwich, is a district and town councillor, as well as being a county councillor for the area. He was due to become Mayor of Harwich in May this year, but, because of the pandemic, this has been postponed until May of next year.

Meanwhile, Cllr Alan Todd remains in office as Mayor of Harwich and he is fully supportive of Ivan's initiative in setting up the Mayflower Legacy Fund.   He said, “The Fund is a great initiative that will have a lasting benefit for the town and local area.  I hope it will gain a lot of support.”

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: “I am looking forward to becoming Mayor of Harwich for the first time next year and, once I take office, 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 in 2021 and is delighted that the Harwich Sea Festival in August next year will host one of the major Mayflower 400th anniversary events postponed from this 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.

It will be a fitting occasion to mark Ivan's vision to help create a positive future for young people and support local charities, while honouring the remarkable history of Harwich.

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

To apply for a grant, click here.

Photo credit: Maria Fowler

Local businessman leaves a lasting legacy for Essex charities

20th July 2020

A new fund launched in memory of pioneering local businessman Bill Southern is to give vital long-term support to charities and voluntary groups across Essex.

Bill, who died in December 2018 aged 82, set up Southern Supplies with his wife Jean 50 years ago.

An enthusiastic supporter of local charities, Bill wanted this support to continue after he died. His wishes have been granted with the creation of the Bill Southern Legacy Fund, which is being run by the independent charitable trust Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Jean said: “Bill and our children, Moira and Gordon and son in law, Ian, did many fundraising activities, including parachute jumps, abseiling, 100km walks and organising a charity ball. One of our staff members had a child with Downs Syndrome and we still support the charity that helped them.

“ECF appealed to us as Bill’s Legacy Fund would benefit the Essex area long-term and we as a family could be involved in decisions about giving grants which would make a difference.”

Bill was born and grew up in Glasgow and was one of seven children.  From birth he had sight in only one eye.

Jean said: “This did not deter him in any way, in fact, if anything, it made him more determined. He left Glasgow when he was about 23 to find work and further his career. Bill and I met in Putney, London. We were married in September 1965 and set up Southern Supplies in 1969. Bill had spotted the opportunity to start a business selling mostly to the garage trade from a mobile van racked out with supplies. We moved to South Woodham Ferrers in 1971 and in 1976 the firm expanded into one of the first industrial units in the town.  We traded mostly in Essex and East London and had a retail shop on New Street in Chelmsford.”

Bill and Jean built up the company together, with Jean working as company secretary and office manager and Bill in sales. When they retired, they enjoyed travelling and cruising, visiting many places around the world. Bill loved to explore.

The fund will be a lasting tribute to Bill who had a legendary zest for life and was known in South Woodham Ferrers as one of the ”Three Wise Men” who set up one of the first businesses on the industrial estate, in what was then a new town.

The couple's son Gordon said: “Dad was a big character, known to all for his hospitality, generosity and gregariousness. He had endless energy, momentum, wit and charm. Only poor health in later years could slow him down.”

Bill's generosity will live on through the fund established in his name which will be a credit to the enduring memory of a loving and wise man.

If you want to know more about Essex Community Foundation and how we work, click here or call 01245 355947 to speak to a member of the team.