Our Nominated Charity

Brain Tumour Research selected as the new Feltmakers Nominated Charity

Louisa Vincent reports….

As those of you who attended the Installation Dinner in early October will already know, the new Master announced the result of the member survey to select our new Nominated Charity – and the winner was Brain Tumour Research.

Laying claim to being the founder of ‘Wear a Hat Day’, Brain Tumour Research (BTR) works to fund and manage the direction of research into brain cancers.  One notable patron is Philip Treacy because of the connection to hats and he has previously donated one for auction.

One of the things that the Charity Committee looked at in its assessment of the potential charities, was whether there are opportunities to engage through volunteering or fundraising events.  BTR offers volunteering days assisting in its head office.

In terms of fundraising, one of BTR’s most lucrative events is the London Marathon. The other is its flagship “Wear a Hat Day” which is targeted at schools, businesses and communities.  With a formal date each spring, there have been a number of special spin-off dates that can be adapted to other times of the year, eg.Wear a Christmas Hat Day and hat-wearing walks.

How did we get here?

In late 2022, Master Nigel MacDonald asked me to convene a new Charity Committee with the purpose of finding the successor to Helen Arkell Dyslexia Foundation, which had been our Nominated Charity since 2019.  Since its appointment, a number of events have been held to raise money for the charity, including a dinner at the Cavalry & Guards Club in October 2019, PM Nigel MacDonald’s wonderful dinner underneath Cutty Sark and, of course, Graeme Gordon’s impressive Source 2City row in 2021.  Covid extended HADF’s tenure but the time had come to identify our new charity partner.

Along with Emma Whitaker, Caro Wood, Alex Hayward, Richard Holmes and Sam Gordon-Luty, we met in early 2023 to start the process.  Our brief was to find a charity that the next Master and his successors over the following couple of years would be happy to support and, equally importantly, one that the Livery would get behind.  By having a multi-year period, the hope is that members of the Livery have a greater opportunity to support, engage with and learn from the Charity, and that an annual report back to members by the Charity will keep us informed as to how our fundraising is being applied.

We started with a number of suggestions from the Master & Wardens, adding a few of our own, we refreshed our operating principles and agreed a rough plan of attack.  

The first step was for the Charity Committee to undertake due diligence on a number of potential organisations, using this to whittle down to a shortlist. Key criteria included the strength and quality of governance, opportunities for engagement or collaboration and finances.  We also looked at purpose, the raison d’être and whether it had any relevance to Feltmakers, which proved somewhat challenging.

Caro Wood kindly undertook the initial assessment of each charity, with the results discussed by the Committee. Several were deemed ineligible based on one or more of the above criteria.  

Selecting the winner

The Charity Committee felt it would be key to allow liverymen the opportunity to help with the selection, making the process as transparent and engaging as possible.  

After the due diligence process, there were three in the running: Brain Tumour Research, Fight For Sight/Vision Foundation and Ruth Strauss Foundation.  This shortlist was presented to the Master & Wardens at the July Court meeting, and the proposal to hold an online poll of the livery was approved.  Not only that, but PM MacDonald, the Master and the (then) Upper Warden also agreed to offer a prize to be drawn at random from the responses to the survey.  

On Friday 6th October, at the Installation Dinner, the newly installed Master fulfilled his first duty by announcing that Brain Tumour Research had been selected.  Each of the three finalists received a good level of support, but the clear winner, with 43% of the vote, was Brain Tumour Research. 

What next?

Many of us will know someone who has been affected by brain tumours, a devastating diagnosis.  An initial meeting with BTR was held on Thursday 9th November, at its head office in Milton Keynes, which the Master, Judy Bentinck and I attended.  We discussed the new partnership, possible volunteering opportunities and the calendar of planned fundraising events.  The official Wear A Hat Day is scheduled for Thursday 28th March, so please put that in your diaries and look out for news on how you can get involved.