Grateful, Dolphin and Anchor Societies
With a long history dating back to the 1700s, the Grateful, Anchor and Dolphin Societies are probably the city’s oldest, continually active philanthropic organisations. Originally founded by people in Bristol who were keen to replicate the financial support shown by Bristol-born Edward Colston in the 1600s, the three Societies today focus their efforts on the city’s elderly population with a major fund-raising initiative in early November involving the President of each Society writing many hundreds of personal letters to potential donors. This usually provides over £250,000 per annum for initiatives and individuals in need across the city.
The three Societies provide relief for example by supplying telephones, alarm systems and customised wheel chairs and through the provision of specialist electrical appliances to help the elderly remain in their own homes. The annual collections enable the Societies to respond quickly and directly, free of red tape. They hold a significant place in the care of the elderly in Bristol, based on the generosity of local people.
From approximately 1960 Grateful Society also supported major projects in relation to residential homes for the elderly . Amongst other donations support has been given for the following;
- purchase of 5, Eaton Crescent, ( now a Brunelcare home)
- a large contribution to Bristol Flower Funds Homes,
- land purchase and landscaping for the New Cote extension,
- rewiring and gas conversion at Cote along with subsequent provision of en suite bathrooms,
- a major contribution to redevelopment of New Cote ( Katherine House)
- purchase of the land as well as garden development and building a summer room at Robinson House.
Maintaining mobility as well as dignity and independence in old age has been an objective so in 2006 the Great Wheels project was launched. This provided motorised wheel chairs for needy individuals and was run in conjunction with a professional organisation. Although very successful the costs proved prohibitive and the project had to be abandoned after a few years.
Currently the focus of the Society is on supporting Day Centres across the city. These provide company, entertainment and frequently a hot meal for lonely individuals. At present around 20 such centres receive support though the number seems to be growing.
The Grateful has adapted to the community’s needs over the last 260 year and no do doubt will continue to do so over the years ahead.
Initially fund raising followed an annual dinner but subsequently the president would visit his friends and colleagues at home seeking support. Around 1900 this became too onerous and hand written letters were then sent by the relatively new postal system. This continued for over 100years but has now been largely overtaken by more modern methods. In addition funds are now sought from a number of larger charitable trusts in addition to the president’s friends and work associates.
Synopsis of main charitable support; (all dates are approximate)
1758 – 1870 Apprenticing poor boys.
1820- 1912 Supporting lying-in ladies.
1913- Present Provision of ‘annuities’ to impoverished elderly ladies.
1960-2010 Supporting residential homes for the elderly
2006-2009 The Great Wheels project.
2010- Present Support for Day Centres.
The Grateful Society was founded in 1758 and unusually had no political affiliations. Like many such contemporary organisations its charitable works were based on a dinner for like-minded individuals followed by a collection. This was normally distributed as bread and money to the poor but instead the Grateful devoted the collection to apprenticing poor boys. Four boys were apprenticed initially but the numbers grew rapidly so that 17 boys had completed their apprenticeship by 1764.
Gradually the charitable aims of the Grateful evolved though the precise times that the changes were made is unclear. Granting apprenticeships probable ceased in the second half of the 19th century by which time the main charitable objective was to support ‘lying-in ladies’. In 1841 following an exceptional collection support was given to 1200 ‘lying-in women’ and 24 poor boys were apprenticed. Support for women in childbirth ceased in 1912 following the Insurance Act of 1911, which provided maternity grants.
From 1913 the objective became ‘ to grant relief to ladies of 55 years and upwards ….who are now in need of the necessities of life and whose total income does not exceed £50’. Support for such individuals remained the major objective of the Society for around 100 years and continues until the present day. Members of the ladies committee visited and annuities were provided. Initially these were much sought after so that potential recipients had to plead their case for support and an election then took place with members of the society voting in proportion to the size of their donation. Such practice no longer occurs!
The Societies Today
The motivation to create these ancient Societies is entirely relevant to today’s world – giving selflessly for the benefit of others. What is remarkable is that the Societies have survived for over 250 years and this is partly due to a friendly rivalry as the Societies seek to maximize their fund-raising efforts each November, and also to the sense of tradition as each President strives to live up to the example of so many predecessors.
The continuing inspiration for the three Societies lies both in the number of people in and around Bristol that are in need of help and in the fact that so many local people are willing to give money and time to help support others who are less fortunate than themselves.
Our presidents from 1945 to present
|1945||Alfred Edmond Robinson|
|1946||Robert John Sinclair|
|1947||John St. Clair Harvey|
|1948||John Foster Robinson|
|1949||John Rodney Rupert Scull|
|1950||Harold Maurice Corner Hosegood|
|1952||Philip Vaughan Roberts|
|1953||Tom Fielden Hood|
|1954||Reginald Verdon Smith|
|1955||Christian Merrett Stock|
|1956||Philip Napier Robinson|
|1957||Hugh Charles Innes Rogers|
|1958||The Duke of Beaufort|
|1959||Cyril Frank Uwins|
|1961||Thomas Denner Corpe|
|1962||Thomas Lloyd Robinson|
|1963||George Edward McWatters|
|1964||George Henry Ross Goobey|
|1965||Tom James Hood|
|1966||John Henshaw Britton|
|1967||Charles Henry Kinnersley|
|1969||George Morey Tricks|
|1970||John Vemon Wills|
|1972||The Earl Waldegrave|
|1973||Kenneth Alfred Leader Brown|
|1974||John Sutcliffe Camm|
|1975||John Osbome Gough|
|1976||William Nicholas Hood|
|1977||Timothy Christian Merrett Stock|
|1978||John Charles Tolmie Harvey|
|1979||Simon John Douglas Awdry|
|1980||Christopher Wilson Thomas|
|1981||Colin Ramsay McCay|
|1982||David Cuthbert Tudway Quilter|
|1983||Anthony Leonard Robinson|
|1984||Julian Cecil Somerville Mills|
|1986||Anthony Richard Wynniatt Eve|
|1987||Charles Humphrey Cridland Densham|
|1988||Stuart Morrison Andrews|
|1989||Christopher John Leon Moorsom|
|1990||William Arthur Waldegrave|
|1991||Timothy Ritchie Thom|
|1992||Robert Edward John Bemays|
|1993||Nicholas Gordon Knibb Hutchen|
|1994||John Moger Woolley|
|1995||Peter Ryan Cridland Densham|
|1996||Sir Richard Gaskell|
|1997||David John Marsh|
|1998||Andrew Robert Thomhill|
|1999||George Edward Cedric Lankester|
|2000||Charles Nigel Sommerville|
|2001||Kenneth Tim Pearce|
|2004||Charles John Calcroft Wyld|
|2005||David John Cryer|
|2006||Tom Angus Hood|
|2007||Grant Stephen Watson|
|2008||John Howard Newman|
|2010||Michael James Henry|
|2012||Hugh Beresford Coakham|
|2013||Susan Darwall Smith|
What we’ve been up to
Find out more about how we’ve been making a difference.
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Chinese Community Wellbeing Society
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