Cumbria Community Foundation celebrates major milestone

29th March 2021

Cumbria Community Foundation has recently hit a major milestone, having awarded £50 million to community organisations and individuals across the county since its founding in 1999.

This has seen thousands of grants distributed to a host of community causes, local charities, and development schemes that tackle key issues across the county.

The Foundation has granted almost £5 million in the last 12 months alone. £3 million of this has been awarded in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 200 organisations received financial support for vital services including foodbanks, food and care packages for vulnerable people, telephone and online services plus projects to reduce isolation, emotional, mental health and financial hardship, as well as IT equipment for schoolchildren, and support to access benefits and debt advice.

L-R: David Beeby, Jacqui Currie, Andy Beeforth, Jenny Benson, Ellen Clements, Annalee Holliday

The Foundation reached this £50 million milestone with a £50,000 grant to Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden from the Pappagallino Fund. That grant is to be shared equally between the five citizens advice organisations across the county and will allow them to increase capacity and deal with increased demand by providing advice and information on a range of financial, legal and consumer issues.

CEO of Citizens Advice Carlisle and Eden, Andy Auld, said: “This funding has enabled the Citizens Advice network in Cumbria to respond to the needs of local people by ensuring their services are accessible and safe for workers and clients. Local Citizens Advice have also used this funding to recruit, train and support additional workers to deliver advice to vulnerable people across the county. Cumbria Community Foundation has once again risen to the challenge and been there to support charities when they most need it.”

Launched in 1999 with a founding donation of £1 million from British Nuclear Fuels Limited, now Sellafield Ltd, and the support of all seven local authorities within the county, the Foundation is one of the UK’s leading, accredited Community Foundations, and has worked with hundreds of families, businesses and charitable trusts over the past two decades.

John Fryer-Spedding CBE DL was instrumental in establishing the Foundation in 1999. Almost 22 years later, the Foundation has more than 100 active grant-making funds with a total of more than £23 million held on endowment. The income from those endowment funds will mean that the communities of Cumbria will be supported for many years to come.

John, who was a founding trustee, said: “In 1997, my wife Clare and I invited a number of people to a steering group to assess the prospects for a community foundation for Cumbria. We had no idea then that such a foundation could be making grants on the scale it does today. But we were confident that we could find the basic elements: good trustees and staff and some generous donors. And there is a fourth element, which has contributed to the success of our Foundation, ably led by Andy from the start. In Cumbria we have vibrant local communities from Barrow to Bewcastle, and from Alston to Millom, which are second to none. These well deserve the great support which our Foundation has been able to give to them.”

Since its inception, the charity has put the community at the heart of its giving, helping hundreds of thousands of people. Three charities are among those to praise the Foundation on reaching its milestone.

Ruth Jeffcoate, Funding Officer at Carlisle Youth Zone, said: “At Carlisle Youth Zone we pride ourselves on having our finger on the pulse of what the young people of Cumbria need to reach their full potential. Cumbria Community Foundation always gets the bigger picture and has the knowledge and understanding needed to know just how to support us where it really counts.”

Mike Messenger, Operations Manager of Maryport Inshore Rescue, said: “It has supported us on many occasions over the past decade, the organisation and its staff and all the companies that donate to make it all happen are a credit to Cumbria. We would not be where we are today without the help of the foundation. The people who receive the grants can then go on to help others which is fantastic. Well done for reaching such a great milestone.”

Vanessa Dixon, CEO of The Birchall Trust in Barrow, said: “Huge congratulations to Cumbria Community Foundation on meeting this landmark. The Birchall Trust has received support from the Foundation over a number of years and we are proud to have been able to deliver services to some of the most vulnerable people in Cumbria because of this support. The past year has been exceptionally hard, and your support was never needed so much – here’s to the next landmark.”

L-R: Andy Beeforth, Jacqui Currie, Ellen Clements, Jenny Benson, David Beeby, Annalee Holliday

Chief Executive, Andy Beeforth who has been at the helm since the very beginning, said: “This is a celebration of the kindness and generosity of the people who have chosen to give through the Community Foundation. The £50 million represents so many different stories of people being helped and significant moments in the life of Cumbria’s communities over the past 21 years. From hardship grants to stonewallers during the 2001 Foot & Mouth outbreak, a group of young people from Whitehaven travelling abroad for the first time visiting New York, and food parcels delivered to the elderly and vulnerable during the pandemic.”

“It has been an incredible year for the Foundation and it’s great to look back and reflect on the amazing work that our funds have contributed to. To see the direct impact our grants are having on local areas is the biggest motivating factor for both myself and the team; we’ve all been working so hard and so to be able to reach this momentous milestone together is something that I truly treasure.”

President of the Foundation and Lord-Lieutenant, Claire Hensman, said: “My thanks to all those working and volunteering for the Foundation, but also to everyone who, through their donations, has contributed to the £50m of grant making. The Foundation has built an outstanding reputation for knowledge of local communities in every corner of Cumbria, targeting grants to great effect. We can be especially proud of the speed of response in meeting needs in emergencies; the pandemic is just the latest example. I don’t know where we would be now without the Foundation and those who donate to it.”

Andy added: “We couldn’t have reached this amazing figure of £50 million without the support and generosity of our fundholders and supporters, for which we are very grateful. We hope over the next few years that more people who have the means to give back will come forward and help us in our mission of furthering a fair, caring and vibrant Cumbria.”

If you would like to know more about how you can support your local community or a cause you care about, contact Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive on 01900 825760 or email