Parson Latham’s Grant Aid

The Parson Latham’s Charity has been aiding the residents of Oundle for over 400 years. Founded under the patronage of Lord Edward Montague, the charity was funded by income from his lands, which financed the building of the Parson Latham’s Hospital on North Street in 1612. Since 1999, ten per cent of the charity’s funds have been used for an education grant aid, eligible only to Oundle residents. Although it varies enormously, on average fifteen to twenty people apply every year, with an unusually high number of 28 applicants last year. Mr Graham Sands, Clerk to the Trustees, said: “This all-time record was probably due to a reduction in student loans and an increase in education costs”.

This year they have received seventeen applications which the trustees are currently considering.

An annual grant varies from £100 to £200, but more can be granted in exceptions. Applicants on a three or four year course can make a renewal application every year. The Foundation is funded by ten percent of the Trust’s profit which, of course, varies with the Trust’s investments and profit from 300 acres of land farmed by five tenant farmers, just outside Boston in
Lincolnshire.

According to Mr Sands, the grants help the applicants a great deal, especially those who have to get by with very little. Mr Sands adds that it is a “shame we don’t get more applicants”, as the trustees truly believe that the grant is well received by its applicants. Mr. Sands showed the Chronicle how many of the applicants keep in touch with the trustees after they graduate with thankful messages such as, “I cannot thank you enough for your generosity; this money will really help me out… and as a result make my entire university career much better”, or “I would like to say a really big thank you for giving me a grant… with your help you have made it possible for me to be able to fill my tool box with exactly what I have needed”.

During the selection process the trustees determine the value of the grant after looking at “all aspects of the application, including how many siblings the applicant has, the financial position of the parents, if the applicant is from a one-parent family and other domestic issues which may influence their decision”. Also in order to acquire a more accurate picture of an applicant’s financial situation, the trustees have started recently to include allowances, benefits and income support on top of wages into their calculations. Mr Sands emphasised that all applications were treated with utmost confidence.

Additional requirements are extremely reasonable; the applicant must be aged sixteen or above. He or she must have attended Oundle Primary School, Middle School or Prince
William School for no less than two years and must reside within the Parish of Oundle. The grant is offered as financial aid for further education, whether it is at university, technical and further education colleges, apprenticeships, or vocational training.

However, checks on possible misuse of the grant are limited, as the trustees rely “heavily on the honesty of the applicants”. Nevertheless, The Foundation communicates with the pupils, and the grant has to be renewed every year. One of the conditions for issuing the grant is that it must be used for purchasing books or for other educational expenses, such as tools for apprentices. If, for whatever reason, the student drops out of further education, the grant must be repaid.

By Lauren Chan