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The Advertiser at 150: The Louis Baylis (Maidenhead Advertiser) Charitable Trust

The Louis Baylis (Maidenhead Advertiser) Charitable Trust is synonymous with the Maidenhead Advertiser.

The trust was formed by Louis Baylis, grandson of Frederick George Baylis, who turned the Advertiser into a successful newspaper in the 1870s.

In 1962 Louis Baylis transferred his ownership of the paper to the trust.

He did so in a bid to protect the newspaper’s independence and avoid estate duties, which were imposed by the Inland Revenue and were met on the death of a company’s controlling shareholder.

The duties had a ‘crippling’ effect for provincial papers and often forced their sale to larger newspaper groups as investments.

By forfeiting the financial benefits of being the paper’s proprietor, Louis safeguarded the future of the paper he loved and effectively gifted it to the town.

In the Advertiser, Louis wrote: “The formation of the Trust will, it is believed, protect our paper from intrusion by outside interests and prevent such interests from gaining effective control in the management of the business.”

As well as protecting the paper’s future, since it was established the trust has also gifted charitable organisations more than £6million from the Advertiser’s profits and investments.

Most of the charitable organisations to benefit are local but the trust also gives grants to national charities.

Today the Louis Baylis trustees are Peter Murcott, Patricia Lattimer, John Robertson and chairman Peter Sands.

They sift through the applications from charities and organisations and at two points each year distribute in total between £250,000-£300,000.

In recent years the trustees have made three major donations to charities serving the community using a surplus of undistributed income.

Peter Murcott explained it is money which had not been spent by previous ‘conservative trustees’ but which the current trustees felt ‘should be put to use’.

He said: “We particularly wanted to make significant donations into the community, in particular reference to hospice care.”

The benefitting hospices were Sebastian’s Action Trust, The Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service and Thames Hospice.

Usually organisations benefit from single donations of anything upwards of £250, or annual grants such as the £15,000 given to People to Places each year.

Patricia said she knew being a trustee would be satisfying given ‘the positive difference even a modest but timely grant can bring to a community organisation or charity’.

She called the trust an ‘agent for good’ and described being a trustee as ‘a privilege’.

“I am delighted to be a small part in the continuing history of the Baylis Trust's positive relationship with the community of Maidenhead and its surrounding area,” she said.

Without the Louis Baylis Trust John believes this ‘sense of community within the town would be diminished’.

He said: “I suspect that a very large percentage of people have benefitted one time or another from the Louis Baylis Trust and I think that’s a really proud achievement for the newspaper and the trust.”

£271,000 to Thames Hospice

The £115,000 gifted to Thames Hospice will fund the ‘Louis Baylis Physiotherapy Centre and Gym’.

It will be part of the charity’s new £18.6m hospice being built on land next to Bray Lake.

Here staff will be able to provide ‘expert care for people living with life-limiting illnesses’ within a purpose-built facility.

The charity has long outgrown its hospice in Hatch Lane, Windsor. It was built in 1987 and ‘isn’t designed to allow twenty-first-century care’.

A private fundraising appeal for the project was launched in July 2017 and the trust pledged its support in February 2018.

Thames Hospice CEO Debbie Raven said: “The Louis Baylis Trust donation has been amazing.

“We’ve always had a close working relationship with the Maidenhead Advertiser but receiving this donation at quite an early stage in our appeal really helped to reinforce the message that our community was really behind us.”

In total the trust has given more than £271,000 to Thames Hospice.

“It’s really important that charity organisations like the Louis Baylis Trust are there for the community,” she said.

“I think it helps to keep charitable organisations alive.”

£100k to Sebastian's Action Trust

The £100,000 donation given to Sebastian’s Action Trust has enabled the creation of an outreach centre for families with seriously ill children.

A holiday home where families could spend time together away from hospital was the wish of Sebastian Gates before he died of a rare childhood cancer aged nine years old in 2003.

Cedar Lodge is just this and one of three buildings on the Sebastian’s Action Trust Woodlands site in Crowthorne.

Previously a disused day nursery, the grant paid for new flooring, replacement guttering, new electrics and water supply, new windows and doors, painting and decorating, and more.

It is now ‘a warm, welcoming, spacious building’ which includes a space for crafts and play, private counselling suite, kitchen facilities, a sensory area and an outdoor area.

Sebastian’s mum Jane Gates OBE and family established Sebastian’s Action Trust in 2003 and the Louis Baylis Grant is one of the largest it has ever received.

 “Such a significant amount of money makes such a difference,” she said.

“We have been able to totally transform Cedar Lodge into a superb outreach facility that hundreds of families will be able to use for years to come.

“We remain incredibly grateful for their generosity and continued support.”

'Together' we helped build hospice

Fiona Devine, co-founder of the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service said she and her husband John were ‘blown away’ by the £100,000 donation given by the trust.

The couple set-up the charity in 2007 a year after their eldest son, Alexander, died from a brain tumour when he was eight years old.

Fiona said: “We knew that the Louis Baylis Trust made nice, charitable donations to local causes but we were absolutely blown away by the figure that we got from them.”

The donation contributed to expanding the charity’s outreach service to include a hospice.

This was an ambition realised in June last year when the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice opened in Snowball Hill, Maidenhead.

For Fiona, receiving the donation from a trust so engrained in the community meant a great deal.

“For me, anything that’s local, that’s been started by a local person, is always very dear to my heart having done something similar,” she said.

“It does mean a lot personally to be supported by your local community, and Louis Baylis, being very much part of that community.”

The paper also launched the ‘Together we can Build it’ campaign to raise capital funds for the project and the trust has also given grants for staff uniforms and transport for families.

Ongoing support for Citizens Advice service

A charity which supports about 4,000 people in the Royal Borough receives an annual grant of £25,000 from the Louis Baylis Trust.

The sum helps Citizens Advice Maidenhead & Windsor to run its core advice service, which gives free information, advice, advocacy and representation to those in difficulty.

Struggles people most need support in navigating are debt, welfare benefits, consumer issues, family and relationship problems, housing and employment.

It is estimated that 15,000-20,000 people in the borough are ‘finding life hard’.

Trustee chairman Peter Sands said: “This is a valued service provided to the whole of the population of Maidenhead irrespective of need and is extremely important.”

Charity chief executive Christine O’Hare said: “It would be impossible to overstate the importance of the trust’s grants to the success of our service in this borough.”

Christine said the grant helps the charity to ‘widen and deepen’ its service and believes the trust is ‘significantly adding to compassion in society’.

Heritage Centre stability

The biggest sum the trust has ever pledged was a £455,000 loan grant to the Heritage Centre.

It was pledged more than 10 years ago, so the freehold of the centre’s home in 18 Park Street could be secured.

If the site were to be redeveloped or the centre was to move, which might be soon as part of the regeneration of the town, the interest free loan becomes repayable.

Heritage Centre chairman Richard Poad said without the trust’s support it would have taken too long to have secured the property and finding another town centre site would have been unlikely.

Peter Sands said: “That was loaned over 10 years ago now and we are delighted that the Heritage Centre has grown and developed so much over the years with our support, which is ongoing.”

Richard said the trust’s continued support through grants has ‘helped the Heritage Centre become an essential part of Maidenhead’s cultural life’.

As a local historian Richard said the Advertiser ‘is vitally important to the history of Maidenhead’.

He said: “For 150 years it has recorded local events from wars breaking out to births, marriages and deaths. It has been the community’s memory bank and long may it thrive.”

Small sums matter

Even relatively small donations from the Louis Baylis Trust make a big difference to Men’s Matters.

Established as a charity in 2017 by Tim Walker, Patrick Manning and Paul Samuels, the aim of the group is to support ‘older men to live longer and live better’.

The group holds weekly meetings in Maidenhead, Windsor and Langley with invited speakers, and organises workshops, lunches, excursions and opportunities to volunteer in the community.

Since it was started the trust has made donations of £500 to Mens Matters.

“It makes a big difference to us,” said Tim. “All of the donations we get are going straight back out in direct support for our men.

“We don’t have any admin costs, we don’t have any staff costs, everything is 100 per cent spent on meeting our objectives.”

By making the donations Tim believes it shows the trust regards Mens Matters as ‘providing a very useful service in the community’.


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