Grants paid out by the BGAJ Charitable Trust to Guild members reduced by 58% during the financial year ending 31 December 2018.
Delivering his annual report to the Guild’s 2019 AGM, BGAJ trust representative Clive Rainbird said the past year was one of consolidation for charitable trust.
Total asset value fell by £3,304 to £184,097 reflecting a volatile investment market which has been influenced by the uncertainties surrounding Brexit and global trade.
Investment funds have been impacted by fluctuations in stock market returns during 2018 reflected in reduced dividends and fund value of £168,229 (2017: £174,614).
The trust continued to receive a number of calls for assistance, although requests for financial aid were lower than in the prior year.
Thus, once again, funds were sufficient to meet the level of help and support requested by members and families of the BGAJ, said Clive.
The trust remains loyal to its objectives accepted by the Charity Commission in 1993, when former members of the then Guild had the foresight to create a charitable trust.
Those objectives include the relief of poverty of BGAJ members and former members, their partners, families, dependants and other applicants from the agricultural and horticultural media.
They also include a provision for financial help for education and training for those in hardship.
It is with great regret that 2018 recorded the death of Maxwell Reader, who passed away on 20th October after a short illness, and the resignation of Tony Collier in August.
As two of the trust’s longest serving and experienced trustees, they will both be missed greatly for their dedication to the Trust, their professionalism and outstanding personalities.
Trustees are accountable to the Charity Commission for England and Wales and are all volunteers.
They have expertise covering four key areas: UK agriculture and rural industries including its associated media; healthcare and support; associated charities; and business advice.
Given the Trust’s current modest reserves and annual income, financial assistance provided by the trust in any one year must be restricted, explained Clive.
The trust’s policy is to, where possible, limit grants in any one year to the earnings from annual dividends received, interest and other reliable income.
Each case is considered carefully with awards tailored to provide help in specific cases of hardship.
So far, there have been no examples where the Trust has been unable to give short-term help to get a member over a moment of crisis.
Although the financial position of the Trust is sufficient to meet its current commitments and policy, there are justifiable reasons why that may not always be the case:
- an increasing proportion of the BGAJ membership comprises a retired and ageing sector;
- there is an increase in its freelance element which is heavily reliant on market forces;
- the UK’s decision to leave the EU may exacerbate the traditional roller-coaster ride experienced by the agricultural and rural sectors as a whole;
- with the uncertainty and possible impact of Brexit placing traditional media businesses under increasing financial pressure.
- the on-going volatility in the financial markets, suggest that income from dividends, and certainly bank interest, may continue to be an unreliable source of revenue.
- Only with a source of consistent reliable income can the trust continue to ensure it can meet its objectives, as outlined above.
Trustees for the year ended 31st December 2018 included, in alphabetical order: Tessa Bevin; Nicholas Bond; Rosie Carne; Denis Chamberlain; Jeremy Coleclough; Tony Collier (resigned August 2018); Geoff Dodgson (elected November 2018); Peter Hill (elected November 2018); Stephen Howe; Diane Montague; Max Reader (passed away October 2018) and Wendy Ryder.
Our photo shows Clive Rainbird asking members and guests to “fill the chairman’s boots” with donations to the charitable trust at the Guild’s 2018 Harvest Lunch. Photo credit: Ruth Downing.