753 Benenden School Open Day Top

Extraordinary Legacy

Published by Bedford School on Monday 25th of November 2013

The School's new theatre is to go ahead, with work starting within the month, thanks in part to an extraordinary act of generosity from one its former pupils. The School was recently informed that the late Brian Saville, who was at the School between 1940 and 1948, and who died after a long illness in August, has left a residue of his estate to Bedford School Foundation, a separate charity created in 2003 to help raise funds for the School, which is part of the Harpur Trust. Mr Saville's Solicitors have confirmed that the Foundation is expected to receive in excess of £6,500,000.

Chairman of Trustees, Anthony Ormerod, himself an Old Boy of the School, said, 'We are humbled that Brian should leave such a considerable sum and trustees are very mindful of the responsibility to use it as he would have wished. We had already set ourselves the target of raising at least £2m for the new theatre and many other old boys and friends of the School have already been most generous with their donations. This legacy allows us to tell the Governors that we can reach our goals. We know that Brian welcomed the project having visited, shortly before he became ill, to look at the plans. Little did we know that we would stand to benefit in the way that we have, and it is wonderful to be able to use some of the legacy for both the School and the town.'

The theatre, to be located in the old Moravian Church on St Peter's Street St Luke's was purchased by the Harpur Trust in 2008 and plans for a new theatre have specifically been designed to provide a facility for town use as well as School, in keeping with the School's and Trust's desire to work closely with the local community. Welcoming the plans, Mayor Dave Hodgson said that 'it is wonderful to see this exciting project going ahead right in the centre of Bedford; I have visited the site and seen the School's plans on several occasions and I look forward to the tremendous contribution that the project will make to Bedford's cultural landscape.'

Following a recent tendering process, the Governors of the School, have authorised the whole development to go ahead with immediate effect with enabling works due to start before Christmas. A competitive tendering process has seen a local firm SDC - awarded the contract; they will be working with Project Managers Ainsleys and architect Tim Foster, of Foster Wilson Architects. The Theatre is due to open in the late Spring of 2015.

Head Master, John Moule said, 'It is very exciting that the project is going ahead. Not only will it provide a first class drama facility for us but it will also be a symbol and a leading example of what I hope is very effective cooperation between the town and the School. Brian was a lovely man and a great supporter of us over recent years; he often visited and we corresponded regularly. We had absolutely no idea he was so wealthy and the extent of his legacy came as a complete shock. I look forward to discussing with Foundation Trustees how they might wish to ensure that it is used to best effect, especially in terms of scholarships'.

Commenting further on the legacy, Mr Ormerod was keen to emphasise its potential, 'We are delighted that the Foundation has been able to support St Luke's and guarantee the funding, but we have other priorities too: trustees are very keen to extend the School's scholarship provision and so allow talented boys who would otherwise be unable to attend the School be helped with the fees. We look forward to seeing young men benefit from Brian's generosity for many years to come'.
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