News

200 Not Out

July 10, 2023

BLOG POST

By Justin Sargent, Chief Executive

Last week, Laura BlakeFiona Foster and I had the very great privilege of attending Summerfield Developments 200th Anniversary, and I was invited to say a few words about our relationship with them.

It made me reflect more deeply than I have before about how important they have been to Somerset Community Foundation, and I realised we wouldn’t be the organisation we are today without their support from the very start.

As a family-led company with 200 years behind it, I have always felt their commitment to supporting their local communities is because they feel it’s the right thing to do and it aligns with their values, and not because it enhances their public reputation or helps win contracts. (Indeed, this is a hallmark of many of the local companies we work with across Somerset.)

So it is no surprise that Elizabeth Williams, a key figure in the history of the company and one of our founding Trustees, was a very passionate advocate for getting more companies behind the Foundation at a time when we were really little more than an idea. Not long after Elizabeth retired from our Board, Richard Lloyd – currently the Executive Chairman of Summerfield Developments – became a Trustee, continuing to shape our work and acting as a great advocate for us.

Justin Sargent talking into a microphone.

Justin Sargent says a few words at Summerfield’s 200th anniversary celebration.

At the core of the Foundation is our endowment fund, a fund built by many donors which is carefully invested and stewarded to fund local charities today and for generations to come. Today it stands at around £8 million and is still growing, but it was Summerfield Developments that put the precious ‘seedcorn’ donations into the fund at the start of our journey, 20 years ago.

Perhaps it is only a local company with 200 years of history literally building communities who could show the vision and leadership to starting building such a fund for Somerset. Where they led, many others have followed.

That was just the start. Since then, Summerfield Developments have built their own substantial fund within our endowment, which is generating around £5,000 every year to give to local causes. They have been working with my team recently to look at ways they can grow their impact. Together, we’ll be focusing their philanthropy on supporting vital local places and spaces at the heart of local communities, and charities working with young people to help those with the greatest challenges build a brighter future.

And that is not all. After a call for help to James Holyday, their Managing Director, they are very generously helping with the refurbishment of our offices at the Bath and West Showground so that we have a place to work that is fit for our future.

We are so proud to be part of Summerfield Development’s history, and for them to be part of ours. Thanks to them, I am certain we will be here in 200 years’ time, and I feel certain they will be too!


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