2015-2016 2017-2018

Our Year


A message from the Chairman

This year saw the completion of the 450th Anniversary of the Trust with some wonderful and very successful community activities.  A moving service in St Paul’s was followed by a “Run and Fun” day in Priory Park.  One of the highlights of the celebrations was a play specially commissioned by the Trust to tell the story of Bedford over 850 years.  Equally exciting was the “Orchestra Unwrapped” event in the Corn Exchange, which engaged over 600 primary school children in live orchestral music.  Another initiative that reached children of all ages and which was extremely popular was the art competition on the theme of “Recording Bedford”.  46 schools and 1400 pupils participated and a selection of the work produced was exhibited at the Higgins.

One of the most important learnings from the Anniversary was that some community events can have a significant social benefit and impact.  Consequently, the Trustees have decided to include a series of similar activities each year to complement the Trust’s grant making and social investment programmes.

The year also saw the residents of Harpur House move to outstanding new accommodation in Oak Way House, which is managed by Bedford Citizens Housing Association.  In the development at Wixams, a “time capsule” was buried on the site of the new retirement village and we are looking forward to working on that project, which will provide more excellent accommodation for older people, with the Extra Care Charitable Trust.

The Trust’s schools have continued to thrive, despite the tough economic climate, working hard to keep fee increases as low as possible whilst at the same time supporting a means-tested programme of fee assistance, which this year benefited 210 pupils.  Over 3,400 pupils are educated directly by the Trust and they, their parents and the staff at the schools, all play an important role in the life of the Borough.

The Trust has also become the sole sponsor of the newly formed HEART Academies Trust, which includes the Bedford Academy and Shortstown, Shackleton and Cauldwell primary schools and educates over 2,500 young people.   The Trustees hope that this will secure the future of an ambitious group of schools in the southern part of Bedford, thus improving the outcomes for many young people each year.

So in a year in which we have rightly celebrated the history of the Trust and the Borough of Bedford, we have also broadened and deepened the relationship between The Harpur Trust schools and those of the HEART Academies Trust and other state sector schools.  We believe this is not only in keeping with the spirit of our founder but also right for today and will be a focus of our efforts in the coming year.

Murray Stewart

A short film about our work as a charity

Our year in numbers

1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017


In grants awarded in Bedford borough


Towards relief grants


Towards education grants


Towards recreation grants

Our year in numbers

  • 1126

    People employed by the Trust

  • 3550

    Pupils educated in our schools

  • 2400

    Pupils educated within the HEART Academies Trust

  • £2.47 Million

    Spent on means-tested bursaries

  • 210

    Pupils received means-tested bursaries

  • 82

    Pupils received a free school place

  • 97000

    Spent on university and college bursaries

  • 10850

    given in maintained school uniform grants

Our key activities this year

Our Annual Report


Read here

Read about our schools' activities


Our schools in the community

Providing public benefit

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