How Dorset charities were given a helping hand when they needed it the most


The Battens Charitable Trust has helped hundreds of Dorset based charities for more than 35 years, stepping up donations during the recent pandemic when it was needed most, as Gail Livingstone reports.

The first Countrymen UK Group was formed here in Dorset at Rylands Farm, just outside Sherborne

Getting together with loved ones is what Christmas is all about – yet for many people it can be a very lonely experience, especially in rural communities. At Ryland’s farm outside Sherborne the Dorset Club of Countrymen UK gives valuable support to men who find themselves isolated because of deteriorating physical or mental health or changing social circumstances. It is just one of many local charities that the Battens Charitable Trust (BCT) has donated to since its inception in 1985.

From donations to a Trust
Battens Solicitors, a 300 year old firm has three offices based in Dorset at Sherborne, Dorchester and Wareham. The company had a history of supporting local communities in Dorset and Somerset through charitable giving, the firm’s partners donating to local good causes from their own income until the trust was eventually established in the mid- eighties.
Since then it is estimated that the BCT has donated more than half a million pounds to local charities through personal bequests and legacies from Batten’s clients as well as the general public. Consultant Solicitor Ray Edwards who helped found the BCT believes the trust has played its part in helping countless smaller charities across Dorset; “It is a privilege to be able to support local communities in this way, especially smaller charities that are often overlooked. We have donated to schools, sports clubs, arts foundations as well as the Dorset Wildlife Trust to name but a few.” During the pandemic the BCT donated £25,000 to local foodbanks and volunteer NHS organisations and hospitals in the South West who were facing unprecedented demand for their services.

Playing an essential part
The pandemic also made it difficult for many charities to fundraise so support from the BCT was vital at this crucial time as the Director of the Dorset Club of UK Countrymen Julie Plumley explains; “The Coronavirus pandemic was a particularity challenging time for a charity like ours, which supports older men in rural Dorset. Most are extremely vulnerable to the virus, so we had to find new ways to help them and their carers during the lockdowns. This included making changes to our venue to make it safe, offering support in people’s homes and delivering food parcels where they were needed. The role that local funders like the Battens Charitable Trust play in this is absolutely essential. Without their support we simply wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

If you would like to make a donation to the Battens Charitable Trust then please contact Louisa Dustan by emailing or by visiting the firm’s website The Dorset Club of UK Countrymen can be contacted by visiting


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