Recollections of the Simpson’s Trust !
In 1924 Elizabeth Sarah Simpson left £10,000 to form a trust. The interest was to be used “for the relief and assistance of any old, infirm or poor and necessitous deserving people in or around New Malton, Old Malton, Norton and the surrounding district”. The money was to be invested in 3.5% Consols and the original trustees were Canon Ingham, John William Pounder (a local bank manager) and Arthur Anderson Hall (a local solicitor).
I first joined the Trust about 40 years ago and I imagine the proceedings then were exactly as they had been from the beginning – very simple indeed.
The affairs of the Trust were conducted from the office of G.A. Newey, a solicitor in Old Maltongate, with the actual work falling on a man named Oswald Hollings, who was a clerk in the office. In those days the existence and aims of the Trust were well known. People knew the dates of the next meeting and before that time obtained an application form inviting them to disclose exact details of marital status, number of children, current income etc.
The actual meetings of the trust were always held in the offices of Messrs. Soulby, Hall and Elstone in Yorkersgate, presumably because this was the firm who formed the Trust initially.
In those days there were always only four trustees, each chosen because their occupation associations with which they were connected, or place where they lived, made it likely they would know most of the claimants. Judicious selection of the trustees seemed to aim at close covering of the whole area from which applicants might come.
The meeting always commenced with a summary approval of the minutes of the last meeting. As these consisted entirely of a long list of small payments no one checked them, or indeed was expected to, and the proceedings began with each trustee being given a batch of applications which he was thought to be able to evaluate.
Long periods of silence followed, broken only at intervals by one trustee or another expressing in his own way his opinion of the application he was considering. Eventually decision was reached and we handed our results to the secretary and the meeting ended promptly for all the members except me. As I was readily available the secretary came the next day with something like 150 cheques to be checked against the list and signed. These were then delivered by “HE MAIL” – Mr. Hollings on his bicycle. Most of the recipients, if not all, would not have a bank account, but they all managed in one way or another to “launder” the cash! Although the payments were small – usually 50p (equivalent) and never more than £1, I still meet people who remember how much their Grandparents valued the Simpson’s Trust.
By the mid seventies, however, it became obvious that the trust was out of date – a gift of a cheque for what was by now 50p to relieve hardship was derisory. We therefore decided that in future we would conserve our resources and make worthwhile contributions in the main to organisations who were operating in a similar way, thus benefiting more people, more adequately. At the same time we realised that the original investment still in 3.5% Consols had in fact lost almost half of its value, and that the income which had also remained static, had thereby lost at least half of its purchasing power. It was decided to take the immediate steps to correct this position, and to make this an on-going consideration of the Trust in the future.
In the meantime, the death of Arthur Newey, and the resignation of Mr Hollings forced changes on the Trust. Some of the old Trustees had gone, and one of the successors was Arthur Pearson, then Chief Executive of Ryedale Council. He found us a home in Ryedale Council Offices and a secretary – Margaret Harvey – who competently and quickly re-formed the secretarial arrangements so that they were handed on in a satisfactory form to Joyce Abbey, who then built on and improved the foundations that Margaret had laid, and served the Trust very capably until she retired in 1999. Meanwhile, there being no obvious successor available, Colin Wigglesworth, by now Chairman of the Trustees, undertook the secretarial duties for the time being.
A very rough calculation shows that over the life of the Trust, donations of over £25,000 have been made in accordance with the terms laid down, and that we still have £15,000 of the original £10,000 left.
It seems therefore that the trustees, over the years, can claim with pride (and modesty) that they have carried out their allotted task with fidelity.........