by Lizzie Cody, Foundation Manager, The Utley Foundation
In what has been an incredibly tough 18 months, there were few truly bright points for most people. On both a personal and professional level, one of the brightest moments in my year was the donation we received from the Hunter Foundation, live on BBC Breakfast, in November 2020.
I vividly remember nearly choking on my morning coffee, sitting on my sofa, while I watched my colleague Grace accept (somewhat tearfully!) £500,000 from Sir Tom and Lady Marion Hunter. I’m not sure we even thought it was real at first. Grace and I had a number of excited calls where we exchanged possible ideas and talked about the opportunity this donation afforded us, full of excitement and speaking at 100 miles an hour. It was, and will remain, and incredibly generous donation to the campaign and truly lifted us after a very difficult year.
The Hunter Foundation were equally as generous in letting us decide how we might use their donation. As a philanthropic foundation, the Utley Foundation exists to facilitate social impact and our discussions about how we might create lasting impact with this donation centred around how we might add value and leverage further social change.
Our experience as a grant-maker, working in the music and dementia space for the last six years, felt like a natural way to add value to the Hunter Foundation donation. Context was everything: Covid 19 had thrown a harsh light on the delicate balance between delivering high quality services on lean budgets experienced by nearly every charitable body across the UK. Almost immediately upon receiving the donation we knew it could be best used by the organisations delivering music for people with dementia in local communities.
The need is so acute, both for the charitable organisations and people living with dementia, it was clear that by creating a specific fund for organisations delivering music in their communities we could offer vital support for the amazing activities happening around the UK.
In designing the Paul & Nick Harvey Fund, we wanted to reflect the spirit of Paul and Nick’s own relationship and journey with dementia. With a finite fund amount, we wanted more relationships like Paul and Nick’s to be supported by music. We wanted more carers to experience connection with their loved ones through music, and, importantly, to be able to access this service in their local community. Ultimately, our wish to see connection through music shaped the next stages of the fund.
We were delighted and overwhelmed to receive over 170 applications, and even more impressed with their quality. The assessment was competitive, with such a wonderful array of musical activities taking place across the UK. The final 30 projects we have funded truly represent some of the most accessible and innovative musical practices in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, for people living with dementia.
It has been a personal and professional highlight to manage and disseminate this fund across the last six months. It was a wonderful gift for our team, as well as the wider music and dementia sector. We are so excited to see these 30 projects develop across the next 12 months. Keep an eye on our website and social channels to keep up to date with our grantees and their projects.