Great aunt’s love and care inspired fund for young people

THE love and care of a great aunt has inspired retired finance worker Stephen Uden to set up a fund that aims to help disadvantaged young people reach their potential.

He and his wife Ingrid set up The Gladys Watson Fund with Dorset Community Foundation three years ago and it has already awarded more than £10,000 to groups across the county who make life better for young people.

The former senior manager at Microsoft and Nationwide Building Society and Ingrid, a former teacher, wanted to become involved with the voluntary sector in Dorset when they moved to Shaftesbury.

The roots of the fund stretch back to the 1960s when he was born out of wedlock in Abingdon, South Oxfordshire. His mother gave birth to him at a unit for unmarried mums in Croydon but she returned to a specialist hostel in Oxfordshire.

“In those days if you gave birth in that situation you weren’t expected to keep the baby,” said Stephen. “But my mother wanted to keep me so I went to live with my Great Aunt Gladys who lived nearby in Abingdon.”

He stayed with Great Aunt Glad for three years and it was his memories of the way she helped him and influenced him that shaped the couple’s thinking about the fund he wanted to set up in Dorset.

They decided to work with Dorset Community Foundation after Stephen had a good experience working with Wiltshire Community Foundation while at Nationwide, where he had built up a charitable fund via a company scheme with Charitable Giving.

Ingrid said: “Having moved down to north Dorset we didn’t really know who the groups were in the charity sector so setting up a fund with Dorset Community Foundation and leveraging its local knowledge was really useful in helping us get to know charities in our area.

“The thing we like about it is that, as a donor-led fund, we have still got control over it. Yes, we are paying the community foundation to help manage it but they will identify a series of charities that meet the criteria that you’ve established, which in our case is helping disadvantaged young people realise their full potential.

“Then we sit down and look at the requests and decide which ones we are going to fund each year.”

“We try to make the grants a different mix between the groups we know and also try some new ones and use that as a way of getting to know people,” said Stephen.

Find out more about the  Dorset Community Foundation at

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