I’ve been a trustee of the Duke of York’s Community Initiative for nearly two years.
I was invited to get involved after Grant Thornton helped the charity by hosting its annual awards event at our offices. The Board of Trustees wanted someone with financial expertise to join and I was honoured to be asked.
The aim of the initiative is to give recognition to outstanding community schemes throughout Yorkshire which play such an important part in improving the lives of local people. As patron of the charity, HRH The Duke of York is more than just a figurehead – the initiative was his idea and his ongoing involvement gives the awards special kudos.
Every year, community projects based in Yorkshire which are either owned by, or developed and led by, the people they serve, are invited to apply for the awards.
Assessors from the initiative visit them as part of a due diligence exercise, including ensuring their financial accounts are in order, before making a recommendation about whether an award is merited.
The award-winning groups are then invited to attend an annual awards ceremony where they are presented with their accolade by HRH The Duke of York.
So far, this unique initiative has made over 200 awards and done a fantastic job of rewarding and encouraging community groups as well as inspiring others.
Despite being part of Grant Thornton’s not-for-profit practice in my day job, I am involved in a corporate world and I have found it refreshing to see first-hand the fantastic work achieved by so many volunteers who are making such a difference to quality of life in their local communities.
I probably spend about a day a month on my work with the initiative. I regularly attend trustees’ meetings and I am responsible for overseeing the financial side of the charity.
As part of my role, I have also been out to visit groups as an assessor. I took part in our first networking event in Batley which was attended by over 80 people from community groups – the aim was to create an award winners’ community, giving people the opportunity to discuss and share their ideas and skills.
I also helped to organise the initiative’s recent fundraising event which was held at Buckingham Palace. As well as hosting networking events and planning additional fundraising events, we have also recently launched The Innovation Fund. This is a £10,000 fund to promote innovation and sharing of ideas between award-winning community groups.
The charity does a fantastic job of giving the royal recognition of excellence to some of our unsung heroes who devote so much of their time, unpaid, to community work.