New £1 million fund will support personal and educational development of children and young people

Brighton College in the 19th Century - image courtesy of Brighton College
Brighton College in the 19th Century - image courtesy of Brighton College

The BBC’s new documentary A House through Time is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of residents of the same Liverpool house since it was built in 1840.

In the first episode, three very different but equally intriguing lots residents moved in – and out – of 62 Falkner Street in its first 15 years. It is interesting to note how so many lives – especially the less extraordinary – go unrecorded and therefore we don’t always appreciate how much we benefit from lives lived before us.

A new £1 million fund, launched by Brighton & Hove City Council and Sussex Community Foundation in November, created from the transfer of a number of trust funds, set up over the years as result of legacies and endowments left by local people. The fund will support the personal and educational development of children and young people across the city, as well as to support and promote community engagement with libraries. Grants will be made in line with the wishes of the donors who made the original bequests and the aim is that the fund will raise more money and attract new endowments to support other local community causes. First grants will be awarded in March 2018.

One of those original legacies was the Miss Laura Soames Charity for Education of Girls. Miss Soames died on 24th January 1895 and her will formed the charity. Her will was executed by her brother William Soames, who played cricket for Sussex. Interestingly, their father, William Aldwin Soames, was the founder of Brighton College, only a stone’s throw from where Miss Soames lived, at 44 Marine Parade (now the Drakes Hotel).

Laura Soames left £2,000 in her will to her nominated trustees ‘in such manner as the trustees in their absolute discretion shall think advisable for, or towards the advancement of, the education of girls residing, or latterly residing, in Brighton’. The bequest was originally £3,000 but this was reduced by a later codicil to £2,000. In addition, £500 was then bequeathed to ‘my literary trustees’ to continue to publish the series of books, The Soames Phonetic Method of Learning to Read, first published in 1892 and – amazingly - still available on Amazon today.

It’s brilliant to think that the legacies of both Laura Soames and her father continue to benefit the children and young people of Sussex to this day.

“We are honoured to be entrusted with the legacies left by these kind and generous local people,” says Chief Executive Kevin Richmond. “We have pledged to use the example given by Miss Soames to inspire others to give donations and legacies to make Brighton & Hove a great place to live for everyone. We have pledged to increase the size of the endowment fund by another £1 million within ten years.”

If you wish to discuss making a contribution to the Brighton & Hove Legacy Fund, to continue the great tradition of giving back to our local community, call our philanthropy team on 01273 409440.