Seckford Foundation carries forward Benefactor’s legacy as it celebrates 500th anniversary
The Seckford Foundation, has celebrated 500 years since the birth of its benefactor, Thomas Seckford, with a Founders Day event held on 24th May.
The Founders Day service was held at St Mary’s Church, Woodbridge and attended by over 120 people with connections to the charity. It was followed by a Reception at The Abbey, which was re-built by Thomas Seckford for his home and is now the preparatory school for Woodbridge School.
An Annual Review for 2014 (which can be found here) was published to coincide with the event which illustrates how the Foundation has carried forward Thomas Seckford’s legacy and will continue its work with a strong focus on tackling issues of rural isolation. The launch in 2014 of a new Foundation initiative, Seckford Springboard, has created new opportunities for disadvantaged young people who are not in education, training or employment, enabling them to overcome the significant barriers they may face, including rural isolation, and bridge any gap that may be in their way. Ten volunteer mentors have been trained as part of the programme to date, which also offers mentoring, apprenticeships and small grants.
The Foundation had a very successful 2014 across its four schools – Woodbridge School and three publicly funded Free Schools in Beccles, Saxmundham and Ixworth, which in total have approaching 2,000 students in full-time education.
Around 800 pupils aged from four to 18 are educated at Woodbridge School, the Foundation’s co-educational independent school which has an outstanding academic reputation as well as achievements in music, sport, art, drama and chess. The Foundation is committed to maintaining the breadth of access to the world class education, with more than 80 means-tested bursary awards given in 2014, when 87% of A level students gained all A* – C grades and 50% of papers at GCSE received an A or A*.
Young people and education have been part of the Seckford Legacy for 350 years and the Foundation continued this tradition with the introduction of the three Free Schools over the past two years, offering exceptional learning to students aged 11-16 years. Beccles and Saxmundham Free Schools opened in 2012 and both have received Ofsted reports of “Good with outstanding features.” Following their success, Ixworth Free School opened in September 2014 and will welcome Year 10s for the first time this September. The Foundation intends to grow its family of Free Schools in the future.
The Foundation’s award winning care of the elderly is centred on the Seckford Care Almshouses and Jubilee House, where it provides sheltered, very sheltered and residential accommodation and day care services, as well as small grants to aid independent living. In 2014 the Foundation Jubilee House care home manager, Cathy O’Brien, won the ‘Dignity in Care Award’ at the Great British Care Awards for the Eastern Region.
During 2014 the Foundation’s links with the wider community continued to strengthen, with a number of joint activities with local schools and £6,500 in grants awarded to local primary schools. 33 other local grants were also awarded, totaling £23,000, including £4,000 awarded to charity Just42, which supports young people facing challenging times and provides a mobile youth centre bus and £10,000 awarded to the creation of the Ipswich Town Football Club Education Programme and their primary school literacy project.
Roger Finbow, Chairman of the Seckford Foundation, speaking at the Founders Day event, said: “Our charitable aims are still as relevant today as they were when Thomas Seckford walked the streets of Woodbridge.”
He added: “As a means of marking Thomas Seckford’s anniversary with something longer lasting than a few celebratory events, we have just appointed UCS to conduct a piece of research which will look at the effects of rural deprivation on young people, the extra challenges they face and what needs to happen to improve their chances in life. The findings will guide Seckford Foundation’s future strategy in addressing the needs of the disadvantaged in rural Suffolk.”
Seckford Foundation will announce further details of the research in the coming months.
For more information and to view The Seckford Foundation’s first Annual Review in full, please click here.