Whitehaven-based Shepley Engineers, which celebrates its 75th birthday this year, set up its Shepley Group Fund with Cumbria Community Foundation in 2011. Since then, the fund has awarded grants totalling £105,910 to 72 different organisations, mostly in West Cumbria.
The grants have helped thousands of local children and adults supported by smaller, grassroots charities and community organisations covering homelessness, substance abuse, physical and mental health, disability, arts, sport, the environment, education, youth social action, social inclusion and community development.
The latest three grants, awarded this summer to The Vulture Club, Team Evie and The Windmill Trust, sent the Shepley Group Fund’s award total over the £100,000 mark, and are typical of the grassroots work the group, which consists of Shepley Engineering and its subsidiaries West Cumberland Engineering and PPS Electrical, wants to support.
The Vulture Club in Whitehaven offers creative arts and a place to meet in a safe and fun setting to support people recovering from addiction or trauma. Its £2,000 grant will help with the rent at its new premises in Tangier Street.
West Cumbrian charity Team Evie supports sick children and their families when they are in hospital in Cumbria and the North East, at home after hospital, or in need of bereavement support. Its £2,000 grant will go towards salary costs of its newly developed peer support service.
The Windmill Trust supports children and young people in the Wigton area who have encountered adverse childhood experiences and who are not able to access statutory support. Their £2,000 grant will expand their creative therapy services into the wider West Cumbria area.
David Henderson, Nuclear Business Manager at Shepley Engineers, visited The Vulture Club with Cumbria Community Foundation’s Director of Programmes & Partnerships, Jenny Benson, to see the impact the company’s grants make on the organisations, and the people they support.
“It was great to visit the Vulture Club, meet its co-ordinator Kelly, and talk to the people who are actually benefiting from using the facility and from the support they get from the team who run it,” said David.
“It really brings it home how much initiatives like this are needed in our communities, and the real difference they make to people’s lives.
“Along with celebrating our 75th anniversary this year, surpassing £100,000 of grants awarded, is another milestone worth celebrating. We target the smaller grassroots groups, as these are the ones who often struggle to find the funding they need to provide vitally important support to local people. We are proud to be able to celebrate this milestone, and look forward to continuing to work with the Cumbria Community Foundation long into the future.”
The Shepley Group Fund was set up as an endowed fund with Cumbria Community Foundation in 2011, with an initial lump sum of £89,000, to which further donations have been added to over time. This money has been invested and the earnings have been used to award grants to local charitable groups. This has resulted in £105,910 of grants being awarded – but there is still £171,000 of capital funding which continues to be invested. The benefit of an endowed fund is that it is permanent and can benefit communities over the longer term.
David Henderson said: “I thoroughly recommend setting up an endowment fund with Cumbria Community Foundation. They have a professional team and are well governed with a structured approach to providing support to disadvantaged people.
“We are continuously adding to our endowment fund, and it is consistently growing and will go on in perpetuity supporting people and groups in our communities who need it. It is a great way to make a difference over the long term, support those most in need, and deliver a real positive impact to people’s lives.”
Jenny Benson said: “The Foundation is delighted to support Shepley’s charitable giving over the last decade. They are truly leading the way in terms of their generous commitment to local communities, making significant financial investment in small, local charities and committing to long-term, flexible funding. We know just how much this means to the charities and community groups benefiting from these grants.”
Shepley Engineers, based in the Old Town Hall in Whitehaven’s Duke Street, is Sellafield’s longest-serving continuous contractor, and this year celebrates its 75th anniversary. In 1948 it began work on stainless ducting on the Windscale Piles, and was involved in the commissioning of the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant, Calder Hall.
More recently the group have been working on Britain’s next generation nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C, and its specialist restoration division has led on the iron restoration of Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) and the Houses of Parliament.