Local Philanthropists Helen and Peter Wilde have been honoured with a Beacon Award for Local Community Philanthropy at a national ceremony. Helen is one of our newest trustees and we’ve worked closely with both Helen and Peter for many years.
At a star-studded ceremony in central London on Tuesday 9 May, Bristol couple Helen and Peter Wilde were honoured at the 10th national Beacon Awards for their contribution to Local Community Philanthropy.
Helen and Peter are different from the traditional image of philanthropists; they’ve not inherited money or built wealth through business. They’re people who have worked hard, noticed what is going on in the community around them and are determined to do something to enrich the local area and inspire others to do so too.
Proving that you don’t have to be as wealthy as Bill Gates to make a difference, in 2004 Helen volunteered to set up The Funding Network Bristol (TFN) – the ‘Dragon’s Den for charities’ – raising over £275,000 already for more than 60 local charities and inspiring more people to give. The energy and commitment that both Helen and Peter bring to TFN events makes for highly entertaining fundraising nights.
Helen’s career was in marketing whilst Peter was a hospital consultant specialising in heart disease; they have been active philanthropists around the Bristol area for many years.
Inspired by her own experience of settling in a new location with a young family and no support network, Helen became involved with Home-Start Bristol, a small local charity that supports struggling families using a network of trained volunteers. “When I had my first baby I felt isolated and unsupported as I was new to Bristol and had no family help”, says Helen. “I understand how the right help at the right time can make all the difference. I am so pleased that our family has been able to help other families, during such an important stage of their lives together.”
As well as donating money, Helen has been a Trustee for Home-Start and continues to act as an adviser to the charity after her term as a Trustee ended.
Peter could have retired from his very senior position in the NHS to play golf like many others. Instead he continues to drive change in public health, for example his recent initiative to help the deprived community of Lawrence Weston. He is a great example of how skilled people can apply their expertise to philanthropy. Helen’s belief in preventative work shows in her proactive support for projects. Having heard about the work of ‘Pause’ in Hackney (a project working with women to break the cycle of repeat removals of children from their care), Helen is driving the initiative to pilot the scheme in Bristol.
Helen and Peter also put their heads above the parapet to help launch our Foundation’s Vital Signs report in October 2016, which outlines full spectrum of social needs across the West of England, and were interviewed about it for BBC Points West.
In 2008 the couple set up their family fund with us, and use to make strategic grants focused on prevention, early-intervention and diversionary activities. Many philanthropists are put off by projects like this because impact can be so difficult to measure, but the couple visit projects regularly so they can see the difference their support makes at first hand.
Helen was appointed as Bristol’s High Sheriff in 2016-17, and – with tireless support from her husband – visited countless community groups to support good work, particularly early-intervention and preventative projects involving young people and aimed at reducing crime and anti-social behaviour. Through this post she also led the High Sheriff’s Fund, which chiefly supports disadvantaged young people in Bristol through the BYCA programmes.
Peter is currently working hard to support the community in Lawrence Weston to drive forward changes in public health, and is also active in encouraging fellow medics in the West of England to get involved with community philanthropy.
In early 2017 – our anniversary year – Helen stepped down as High Sheriff of Bristol and has become a Quartet Community Foundation Trustee – and we couldn’t be more pleased to continue working closely with her.
It is hard to think of another couple who would be as willing – and able – to be so public about their giving in order to encourage others to such great effect, and to be so thoroughly deserving of this award.