OCF’s much-loved trustee Jane Wates OBE steps down from the Board, having supported the community foundation consistently for the large part of our history. We are delighted that Jane has agreed to become a patron of OCF.
Jane was appointed a trustee of OCF in 1998, and has worked with five different Chairs and four different directors since then. She made the first individual donation to OCF’s endowment in 1997, two years after we were founded. Derek Wood QC, who chaired OCF at this time, commented: “This represents a real milestone in the development of the community foundation’s endowment fund.” Since then this endowment has grown to over £5 million.
A Henley resident, Jane has also been involved with Berkshire Community Foundation since 1991, and was able to bring an understanding of the community foundation model to OCF right from the start. The building of an endowment, for the permanent good of the community, supports her view that philanthropy needs to be a long-term commitment, tackling the root causes that lead to an ongoing cycle of lack of achievement and deprivation.
Jane has also brought expertise to OCF from a lifetime of voluntary work, for which she was awarded an OBE in 1999. This work has focused on the alleviation of deprivation for young people and families, building on family values, and crime prevention. Some of the charities she has supported over the years include the Agnes Smith Advice Centre in Blackbird Leys; the Chiltern Centre for Disabled Children; Ufton Adventure, which aims to increase aspiration for disadvantaged children; the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment; The River and Rowing Museum in Henley; and her local church.
Over time, Jane has been reinforced in her belief that early intervention with families and young people is the most effective way to improve society, and she supports a pro-active approach. She has been a mainstay of our grants panel for many years, helping us allocate funds in a fair and impactful way to support thousands of people to make a better life for themselves. Thanks to the financial support of Jane and others like her, OCF has made more than £7.5 million in grants throughout its history.
Jane has now agreed to join Sir Hugo Brunner in becoming a patron of OCF. In this role she plans to make the case for philanthropy to new donors, and share her passion for giving through community foundations. She says: “I’ve chosen to leave a gift to OCF in my will because their endowment model makes me confident that it will live on well into the future. I don’t know if the charities I support now will exist or be relevant – OCF will always be a living charity.
“However, I also want to advocate for the personal fulfilment and joy that can be experienced through giving whilst you’re living. I would encourage anyone who has the means to give to work with community foundations now to understand these needs, and take action to help.”
Jane is starting this work by being a key member of the organising committee for OCF’s Call My Wine Bluff event – an introduction to our work for people in Henley and South Oxfordshire. In this as always Jane has shown herself to be patient, open-minded, perceptive, generous and fun!
OCF’s Chair John Taylor said: “Jane has made a difference to a wide range of people in her local and wider community. She has given of her time, her money, her talents and her energies, and continues to take on responsibilities with her family foundations and the two community foundations, after nearly 40 years of charitable involvement. She is well and truly a role model and an inspiration for others.”
OCF’s staff and trustees extend their sincere and enduring thanks to Jane for being such a key figure in the community foundation family. It’s not goodbye!