The trust was set up in 1968 by Thomas and Marjorie James – my uncle and aunt. It was Marjorie's wish that, after her death, it would continue to support her interests regarding education, farming and preservation of the countryside.
We fund a wide range of groups. PTAs thinking of applying to us should make sure that countryside education is at the heart of their project – for example, focusing on farming, raising animals, growing crops or where pupils interact with nature as an introduction to STEM subjects. Our aim is to get children spending more time outside learning in a practical way.
The trust awards around £120,000 four times a year but receives more worthwhile proposals than it can fund in full. You don't need to be a registered charity to apply, but we need evidence that you're set up as a fundraising group, and your association must have a bank account.
There are three trustees, and we’re all volunteers. We don't have time to read through long proposals, so we ask that you keep it snappy. PTAs can download a contact form from the website and should write a brief description of the project: what it is, what you aim to achieve and especially if there's any outreach. If your project is supported by help from the community or by PTA fundraising, we’re more likely to fund you. Community support of this nature shows you are more likely to achieve your objectives.
We evaluate the proposals independently, and by the time we meet, we've each chosen the projects we like. If the three of us agree, we'll probably fund that proposal. Then we argue over the others – usually the majority – until we decide.
Once a project is complete, we ask recipients to write a report. This is put up on our website so prospective applicants can get information about what we fund. If you're located near where one of us lives, we might visit you. The reports help us learn about what’s been done, any difficulties encountered and the outcome. Everything we do is on our website: who we are, where we came from, the kinds of projects we fund and how to apply. If you're thinking of writing an application, it’s worth digging through it to give you the best chance of success.
Previously funded projects
Highfield Friends and Parents Association, Ely, Cambridgeshire
Purpose: Towards an outdoor classroom and features for the sensory garden
Amount awarded: £4,000
Friends of Appleford School, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Purpose: Towards a forest school self-grow development
Amount awarded: £2,500
Camelsdale Primary School, Haslemere, Surrey
Purpose: Towards a bird hide and eco shed roof for their 'Secret Garden' environmental area
Amount awarded: £2,000