Former police officer Wally Cox started working with OCF as Grants Manager in 2003, later leaving paid employment and becoming a volunteer grants assessor. Now he is retiring, and OCF will miss his friendship and expert eye, which has helped our grants panel direct funding judiciously for the past 14 years.
Wally retired from Thames Valley Police after a 35-year career, and in 2003 joined OCF’s staff team, headed up at the time by Emma Tracy as Director and Simon Stubbings as Chair. OCF had to wait five months for Wally to start, but having him on board was considered worth the wait! During his time as OCF’s Grants Manager he oversaw the digitalisation of grant applications, moving from handwritten forms that had to be typed up by Wally, to a version of the online application system we have today. At the time OCF was based in the basement of what is now Vanbrugh House Hotel on St Michael’s Street in Oxford.
As OCF does now, Wally offered plenty of support to groups to ensure they submitted well thought out grant applications and practised good governance. “There were some people who had great ideas – but no idea!” recounts Wally. “I would put their feet back on the ground before they tried to walk away.” Wally would help groups understand their costs in a realistic way, signposting them to further help where relevant and empowering them to grow. During Wally’s tenure OCF made the first ever grants to local organisations Yellow Submarine and Student Hubs, as well as providing very early support for Oxford Food Bank, KEEN and Berinsfield Amateur Boxing Club.
“Partnerships were so important,” says Wally. “Our strength was always that we knew the groups and we knew the key people working in the county’s voluntary sector. Ultimately I was doing the easy thing – giving the money away. It was great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially working with OCF’s key people such as long-time grants panel Chair Stephanie North.”
Once Wally moved further away from Oxford, he could no longer commute into the city to work, but remained involved for many years as a volunteer, and is now taking some time to have a well deserved rest. He says: “I’m just amazed at how much OCF has grown since I first got involved. Everything the organisation is doing is going in the right direction – unfortunately there seems to be an ever-greater need in Oxfordshire, and OCF is doing all the right things to channel more money into the community.”
Our sincere thanks go to Wally for his time, dedication and friendship.
Find out more about OCF’s history in our 21st birthday impact report