by Air Chief Marshall Sir David Lee GBE, CB
Trustee and Chairman of the Executive Committee
can be more grateful for the generosity of Lord Nuffield than
the men and women of the Armed Forces. They still benefit from
that generosity today, fifty years after his creation of the Trust.
shadows of war were creeping across Europe during the early summer
of 1939. The Conscription Act had been passed and young Territorials
were being called to the Colours. Lord Nuffield greatly admired
the universal willingness of these men and women to accept the
Act and decided to make life more comfortable and agreeable for
them. War broke out and he immediately set aside one million Ordinary
Morris Motors stock units, a gift which was then worth £1,650,000,
to create the Trust for the Forces of the Crown on 14th October
1939. At the same time he made an additional gift of £50,000 to
cover the first year's expenditure until a return on the investment
of the capital sum began to come available.
the actual coming of the war and the mobilization of reservists,
the large intake of men and women and the redeployment of the
Forces produced a bigger and much more widespread need for the
facilities the Trust was intended to provide, particularly in
isolated situations where the paucity of amenities was acute.
The Trustees wished to get on with its work quickly , but one
difficulty stood in their way; it would take at least a year for
the initial income from the original gift of Morris Motors stock
to materialize. The Trust had not, and never has had any source
of income beyond the interest on its stock and it could not draw
on its capital since those funds were to be a permanent memorial
to the spirit which animated Lord Nuffield's benefaction. Once
again Lord Nuffield did not hesitate to support the provision
of a further privileged loan of £50,000 to add to the £50,000
already donated to help the Trust during the first few months
of the War.
that day, the Trust has never looked back. Year by year the capital
value of the Trust Fund has grown and the income has increased
and the disbursement of grants to the Forces has raised accordingly.
During the war years, however, the income accruing was only about
£87,000 per annum, but this level has escalated in recent years
to reach over £800,000 in 1988.
object of the Trust was, and still is, to make grants for the
provision of facilities and equipment of a recreational, or welfare
nature for the benefit of all three Services. Certain strict principles
were laid down, and it is useful to record the most important
of these as they have never been discarded or changed to any great
the first, and over-riding principle is that the Trust should
not contribute towards anything which should more properly be
provided from Public Funds. Thus, for example, you will never
find basic amenities such as football, cricket and hockey pitches
being subsidised by the Trust. The Trustees have to keep a very
close eye upon all requests for grants to ensure that they are
in strict conformity with this principle, and that Lord Nuffield's
gift is not used for grants which should be funded from other
second principle, of almost equal importance, is that grants should
provide for the maximum number of men and women in the Services.
For this reason, sports such as polo, are not looked on with favour
by the Trustees because they are clearly played by relatively
few people. On the other hand, other minority sports and recreations
such as golf, sailing and sub-aqua diving have increased so much
in popularity that they now fall into a category acceptable to
the Trustees. This shift in emphasis is very much in accord with
the Trustees overall aim of ensuring that the views of Lord Nuffield,
as expressed in his lifetime, are given full weight with the changing
pattern of life.
principle is that grants be classified as major or minor, the
former presently being of £10,000 or less and the latter of not
more than £1000. Wherever possible the recipient of a grant is
expected to contribute as much as it can afford to the cost of
the project. There is an exception to these two categories which
will be described later.
this point, it seems appropriate to acknowledge the fact that
Lord Nuffield's gift promoted the development of a modern system
of welfare support for the Armed Forces. Previously, in the relatively
small pre-war Services, the wellbeing of the men could be left
to the individual care of officers, but that arrangement was inadequate
for the much larger forces which war necessitated and which continued
during the Cold War that has followed the Armistice. There is
no doubt that the formation of the Nuffield Trust brought home
to Service Chiefs the realization that some scheme over and above
the mere provision of basic recreational and welfare facilities
would have to be developed. Lord Nuffield's vision, in other words
provided the foundation stone for today's comprehensive "welfare"
system covering all those serving in any of the three Services
its inception the Trust has maintained two bodies of Trustees.
These include three Ordinary Trustees, who are experienced business
men and bankers, responsible for the investment policy of the
Trust that produces the annual income which is then available
for distribution; and three Governing Trustees who are retired
senior officers, one from each Service. Through the Secretary
, who is the only full-time employee of the Trust, they consider
the detailed recommendations for the expenditure of the individual
Service' s annual share of the available income that are approved
at the Executive Committee Meeting which is held in March each
year. This Executive Committee is well qualified to decide on
the order of priority of the many bids received because it consists
of the three serving Principal Personnel Officers, namely, the
Second Sea Lord, the Adjutant General and the Air Member for Personnel.
The bids that are tabled at this meeting have already been carefully
filtered by the Secretary of the Trust and representatives from
the various Service departments of the Ministry of Defence.
first Secretary to the Trust was Mrs Margaret Robinson ORE. For
many years she kept an eagle eye on the administration of the
Trust and ensured strict adherence to the basic principles. She
was eventually succeeded in 1970 by Captain T. P .Gillespie CBE,
Royal Navy (Retd) who was equally strict and administered the
Trust with remarkable economy. Rarely, if ever, can a Charity
have been run with such low administrative costs throughout its
first 50 years of existence. In 1988 Captain Gillespie retired
and Brigadier R.G.Elliot OBE became the new Secretary; continuity
being such that he is only the third person to hold that appointment
in 50 years!
facilities provided by the Trust cover an immense range and it
would be impossible to describe all of them in a short chapter.
In war-time, one of the first things the Trust did was to distribute
thousands of radio sets to the British Expeditionary Force. Later
thousands more were sent to ships at sea and isolated A.A. sites
and barrage balloon units at home. Its Leave Schemes were another
unique feature of the Trust's work in the early days. By far the
biggest and most valuable scheme was the Nuffield Aircrew Leave
Scheme which was started in 1943. It was principally for bomber
crews who were under great strain at the time. They could spend
their leave at a hotel, chosen from a list of some thirty located
all over Great Britain, at little or no cost to themselves. They
could take a relative or friend with them, and these were put
up at special rates. This scheme, of course, ended with the War.
more recent years, the Trust has been anxious to help particularly
those who help themselves or are required to live in isolated
conditions that lack proper amenities. Minibuses have traditionally
been one of the main items requested. The Trustees have tried
hard to maintain the link with Morris Motors of Cowley by subsequently
buying British Leyland and, more recently Freight Rover vehicles
supplied by Messrs Hartwells of Oxford who have always been most
understanding of the particular requirements of the Services and
delivered the vehicles, immaculately prepared, wherever in the
World the recipients might be stationed. Among the other very
popular types of sporting equipment are yachts, sailing dinghies
and windsurfers together with motor boats for water skiing and
sub-aqua diving. Fitness training equipment such as "Multi-gyms"
and weight lifting equipment have also gained favour, particularly
in isolated stations. Other grants have been made for gliders;
golf course machinery; riding equipment, theatre lighting and
instruments for voluntary bands. So much for examples of sporting
equipment but these by no means exhaust the list. Grants for television
sets and video equipment for use in HM Ships at sea, troops serving
in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands and with the United
Nations Force in Namibia, RAF detachments in isolated locations
and for patients in military hospitals have been especially welcome.
The Women's Services, including the Nursing Services, have not
been neglected since, as specifically directed by Lord Nuffield,
special grants are made to them to be spent on small items of
equipment that are not available from other sources and which
improve the quality of life. At the other end of the spectrum
has been the support of those taking part in a wide variety of
expeditions and other adventurous pursuits. These have included
NORPED, the annual Services' expedition to Norway; the British
Services' Expedition to Everest; sponsorship of the Services yacht
during the Whitbread Round the World race and adventure training
expeditions DRAKE and RALEIGH.
the years the Trust has also invested in a variety of "fixed assets".
Nuffield's name is best known through a number of well known clubs
which were sponsored and managed directly by the Trust. The largest
and probably the most famous was the Nuffield Centre, a recreational
club for all Service men and women below commissioned rank. It
was originally situated in Wardour Street, near Piccadilly Circus.
After the adjoining Cafe de Paris had been bombed, it was found
that by pulling down a wall the two premises could be connected,
so the club obtained permission to take over the Cafe de Paris
and rebuild. After the War, it had to move and in July 1948 reopened
in what was formerly Gatti's Restaurant in Adelaide Street, near
Nuffield is understood to have taken a keen interest in the Nuffield
Centre because he wished members of the Forces to be able, while
on leave, to enjoy the amenities of London-life without "going
broke" in the process. The Centre therefore provided subsidized
rates and first-class entertainment free. The regular programme
included two variety shows a week and an orchestra on Sundays;
the artists gave their services free, though, of course all expenses
were paid by the Trust. During the war these all-star shows were
broadcast on the radio and subsequentlyon Television. Very large
numbers were catered for during the War; on moving in 1948 the
average numbers showed a temporary drop but soon rose to 15,000
per week. At the end of 1954 the eight- millionth guest passed
through the Centre. A further move in 1974 to Villiers House,
John Adam Street was prompted by the termination of the lease
and development of the Adelaide Street site. After temporary closure,
the Centre reopened at the new location in June 1974. The Centre
quickly regained its popularity but by 1978 actual usage had begun
to fall and it soon became obvious that it would be uneconomic
to extend the lease beyond the current one. The Trustees subsequently
decided with deep regret that the Centre should finally close
for business at the end of March 1980.
officers and their wives were also not forgotten as the Trust
established the Nuffield Club for Junior Officers where rates
were fixed according to ability to pay rather than actual costs.
During the War the Club was in Halkin Street and known as Nuffield
House; but in 1947 it had to move, and it reopened in Lord Bessborough's
former house in Eaton Square. However, with a falling membership
that reflected the dwindling welfare requirement for the Club
in peace-time and consequent increasing subsidy, the Club was
closed in 1976.
the post-war years, the biggest new venture was the building of
the Nuffield United Services Officers' Club at Portsmouth, at
a cost of some £170,000, with further financial assistance in
the running of the Club in its initial stages. The Club was officially
opened by H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth in July 1951. The Club proved
to be a great success for over 25 years but, with a reduction
in the welfare need for such a club and following upon a decision
by the Ministry of Defence to sell the freehold of the land on
which the Club Buildings stood, the Club was closed in 1979.
Trust also experienced some problems with "fixed assets" abroad
in the days when the Services were deployed in many overseas theatres.
More substantial facilities, such as swimming pools and squash
courts could not be transferred when the Services left the Theatre.
As an example, great difficulty was encountered in obtaining adequate
compensation when the British Forces left Singapore, the Gulf,
Aden and Malta and had to abandon many of these assets. In the
course of time most of the problems were solved, but not without
lengthy negotiations and the money received in compensation for
these lost assets was, of course, returned to the Trust for future
redistribution. With the benefit of hindsight, the Trustees decided
that no further "fixed assets" would be provided in the overseas
theatres which remained, and even at home stations these were
limited to those where a proper length of tenure could be guaranteed.
the 1960s and 1970s the Services withdrew from the overseas theatres
that I have mentioned above and were also reduced considerably
in size. At the same time the Trust's funds were growing steadily
and more more money was therefore available for distribution.
The Trustees felt that there was a danger of frittering away these
large sums on sporting equipment and relatively small projects.
Consequently it was decided to initiate a scheme whereby a "Super
Grant" would be allocated each year to the individual Services
in rotation and addition to the normal Major and Minor Grants.
It was intended that the Super Grant would be spent on large and
worthwhile projects in the United Kingdom, where security of tenure
was assured. The sum allocated has been increased in line with
inflation, and now stands at £150,000.
scheme has been a resounding success and the Trustees feel that
it would undoubtedly have met with Lord Nuffield's approval as
it conforms so closely with his principles as we understand them.
These Super Grants have been spent in a variety of ways. The Royal
Navy have taken the opportunity to help fund improvements to The
Naval Home Club at Portsmouth and the Royal Fleet Club at Devonport.
Many of the other projects to date have been adventure and recreational
centres. There is a Joint-Service one at Rothiemurchus Lodge and
another for the Royal Air Force at Feshiebridge, both near Aviemore
in Scotland. The Royal Air Force also has one near Brecon in Wales
and the Royal Navy are currently building one on the edge of Dartmoor.
A Naval sports complex at Southwick Park and a water-sports centre
on the River Thames belonging to the Royal Air Force complete
the list of such centres. The Army has developed swimming pools
on Salisbury Plain and sponsored improvements to the Union Jack
Club in London. These are all valuable and popular centres which,
in particular , satisfy the principle of providing for large numbers
of men and women in all three Services.
can thus be seen that the Trust has prospered over the years.
Thanks to the dedicated work of successive Secretaries and the
profitable investment policy so ably handled by the Ordinary Trustees,
both the income and the Capital derived from Lord Nuffield's original
gift in 1939 have increased most satisfactorily, the Capital sum
invested having risen to some £16 million. In 1989, at the 50-year
point, the total allocations by the Trust will have exceeded £15
million and the dispensation for that particular year will have
reached some £830,000, a huge increase on the distribution from
the first year of the Trust's life which stood at £87,000. Bearing
in mind that there is no income from donations or any other source
other than the Trust's own investments, this must reflect excellent
and economical management.
Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force continue to benefit
in many and varied ways from Lord Nuffield's generous and imaginative
benevolence which has so successfully filled the gap between those
things that are provided from official sources and those extras
which make living conditions more comfortable or recreation more
enjoyable. In this context, at no time can this have been more
appreciated than by those serving in the arduous conditions of
the War or the numerous operational deployments that have followed
including Malaya, Korea, Borneo, Aden, Cyprus, Belize, Northern
Ireland and the Falkland Islands.