How Yorkshire’s Children of Courage awards help so many

Lucy Thompson from Thornhill, Dewsbury, her mum Dawn and Brother Josh.
Lucy Thompson from Thornhill, Dewsbury, her mum Dawn and Brother Josh.
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OVER the last 22 years, the St James’s Place Foundation has donated more than £34m to good causes benefiting disadvantaged or disabled youngsters.

From climbing Mount Everest to donating a few pounds from their salaries each month, the majority of the money raised comes from fundraising or donations made by the partners and employees of the St James’s Place Wealth Management company, which has its Yorkshire base in Leeds.

It was to raise money for its charitable arm that four years ago Stephen Mitchell, a senior partner at the company and Foundation representative at the Leeds office, founded the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards, which take place next month at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

The Yorkshire Post is media partner for the awards, which recognise the region’s most courageous youngsters, while raising funds for the St James’s Place Foundation.

The Foundation’s main aim is to disadvantaged and disabled young people under the age of 25, and last year, it donated more than £4.9m to good causes.

Malcolm Cooper-Smith, executive director for St James’s Place and a trustee of the Foundation, said: “When we started the company back in 1991 we made a very simple decision that we wanted to give something back to the community, both here and oversees, so the St James’s Place Foundation was set up.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that somewhere in the region of 85 per cent of money raised comes from our community, with partners and employees committing to give money each money. We’re very confident that we are unique in British business to have that proportion giving on a regular basis.”

Anything raised for the Foundation is matched pound-for-pound by St James’s Place, which manages in the region of £47b and is listed in the FTSE 100.

Grants can range from £1,000 to £1.25m, and the trustees use strict criteria to ensure only the neediest benefit, with each charity visited by a trustee before a grant is approved.

“Our theme is ‘cherishing the children’”, said Mr Cooper-Smith. “And our focus is on direct help - whether is be funding a therapists at a hospice or vital equipment for a charity.”

Among those who have benefitted from a grant in Yorkshire is Huddersfield children’s hospice Forget Me Not, who received £75,000 in 2012 to fund a family support team leader for three years. The role is at the heart of what the hospice does and is to assess and support the emotional needs of the entire family affected by having a child with life limiting conditions.

Ian Leedham, senior trust and foundations fundraiser at Forget Me Not said: “St James’ Place are fantastic supporters of our charity. In 2012 they began funding our Family Support Team Leader role which supports the emotional well-being of our families at a time when they are facing extraordinary challenges, including ultimately the death of a child.

“This role makes such a difference every day to the lives of our families and we are extremely grateful to St James’ Place for their funding.’

In February the Foundation donated £10,000 to Bradford-based Clothing Solutions for Disabled People, to support a clothing alteration service for disabled children within Yorkshire.

The three nominees in this year’s Group Award category, Jessie’s Fund in York, Prism Deaf Youth Club in Bradford and Able2 Pontefract Special Olympics have all received grants from the Foundation in the past.

From the young carer who looks after their mother without a word of complaint, to the disabled youngster who flourished in sport, the Yorkshire Children of Courage Awards recognise those selfless young people who shine despite adversity.

The awards take place at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on October 10, and tickets, which include dinner and entertainment by tenor Jonathan Ansell, are now available.

Malcolm Cooper-Smith, trustee of the St James’s Place Foundation, said: “The awards are a significant event for the Foundation, Not only do they recognise some of those extremely brave children and their families, but raise money to help more children.”

To buy tickets to the event, or to sponsor a table, visit www.yorkshirechildren.co.uk