The Foundation was originally formed by Geoffrey Farr MBE DL during his term of office as High Sheriff, Sir Samuel Whitbread KCVO during his tenure as Lord Lieutenant and Bishop John of Bedford. During 1999 and 2000, they developed a Board of Trustees and Officers to implement their key charitable objectives which were:
- The Promotion of any charitable purposes for the development of the community in the geographic County of Bedfordshire and in particular the advance of education, sport and recreation, social and racial harmony, the protection of good health both mental and physical and the relief of poverty, sickness and social deprivation.
- Other exclusively charitable purposes in the United Kingdom and elsewhere which are in the opinion of the Trustees beneficial to the community including those in the area of benefit.
During 2000 and 2001, the Trustees made several successful bids for funds to develop an endowment and to gain income for core costs. This endowment fund started generating income which allowed our first awards to be made in 2002-2003.
In November 2002, a Director of Administration was appointed to develop the Foundation further and to establish a base for award giving throughout the county. This role was extended in November 2005 and renamed Chief Executive.
In August 2008, following the award of the Grassroots Grants Contract, core costs were stabilised and an Awards Manager appointed on a part time basis. However in 2013, two new significant contracts were finalised with London Luton Airport which facilitated the expansion and development of the Foundation. Later in March 2014, a further new contract was gained to run the Luton Youth Fund and this enabled the Foundation to employ a second Awards Manager. At the same time, three additional funds were granted to the Foundation, namely the Big Local, the School Uniform Fund and the LuDun fund. Since 2014 a number of new funds have been placed with the Foundation including from Whitbread plc, London Luton Airport Operations Limited and the Jane Cart Trust. In addition some national funding streams from Comic Relief to Home Office funds have also been distributed through the Foundation in recognition of its local expertise and efficient grantmaking.
I was born in Luton and have lived all my life in Bedfordshire. Educated at Bedford School and Leeds University, I became involved in the Local Community from the age of 24 and was Chair of Education in Luton at 28.
Having lost my Father when I was 27, I became Chairman and MD of G.F Farr & Sons Ltd (later Farr & Daughters Ltd) which I ran until 2020, when it closed after 112 years.
It was as High Sheriff in 1998/9 that I realised the need for a Community Foundation! Holding two large Receptions for Volunteers at both ends of the County brought starkly to my attention that many small Charities could not attract core funding . The work to start what is now BLCF started in March 1999 and with the help of Sir Samuel Whitbread and the Bishop of Bedford, the Foundation was formed.
I believe the creation of the Foundation was my life’s prime achievement.
His Grace the Duke of Bedford
HM Mrs Susan Lousada, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire
Rt.Rev’d Richard Atkinson, Bishop of Bedford
Geoffrey Farr, MBE, DL, founding Trustee