Thoughts from a Retiring Chairman – Godfrey Cole CBE 2010‑2021


On my retirement from the QHTC I have been asked for some thoughts about my (around) 11 years as Chair of the Trustees. I enjoyed the role enormously: opportunities to make changes to the Trusts and learn new skills and the chance to meet and work with some very lively, experienced and bright people on the Board and in the University. Of course there were challenges along the way but most were resolved with goodwill on all sides.

My ambition was to establish an independent path for the Trust with operational procedures to match that would result in a far reaching grant giving scheme reflecting the broad range of the University’s work and ambitions and the Trusts’ objects. Those aspirations reflected the 21st century expectation of the Charity Commission that trusts are able to demonstrate independence through rigorous scrutiny.

Our first major task was to review our annual grant giving process. Completion of that took several years but we now have a robust scheme which continues to evolve, whilst at the same time reflecting the University’s priorities and our objects as well as providing for detailed applications and reporting back. In parallel we sold three properties in Great Portland Street which were no longer suitable for use by the University or the Trust. Sale meant we needed to engage a property adviser and instruct solicitors – both of whom we have used to great effect on a number of subsequent occasions – and arrival of the proceeds of sale led to the need to appoint an investment manager who has worked hard on our behalf. To round off developments our accounts are now maintained by our own bookkeeper, we have our own auditors, we have incorporated the QHT and the QHMF under the QHTC umbrella and we are now looking to merge the two Trusts. Finally, and to support these initiatives the Trusts have appointed new trustees who bring commitment to our work, expertise to add to that already round the table, and maintenance of links with the University.

In addition to all the above the Trust has improved Chiswick: the boathouse has been extensively refurbished, construction of a new 3G pitch is underway and will be complete before the start of next academic year, discussions are in hand for improvements on the Northern part of the site, and a new boat store is under consideration. Much Trustee energy and enthusiasm has been expended on Chiswick, which will due course lead to a site that much better reflects the hopes of those early 20th century donors who supported purchase of the land for sport in memory of Quintin Hogg.

The result, I believe, is a vibrant and forward looking charity that is confident in its own independence, which has an active and streamlined Board with four busy subcommittees, which continues to have important initiatives that it wants to further e.g. grants arrangements and more work at Chiswick, and which also has the flexibility to respond to short term requests, such as the one from the University when the effects of the pandemic on students became all too obvious.

The Trusts changed almost beyond recognition during my time but only because of the support, encouragement and wise words of others – Trustees most especially, but also University staff at all levels, and members of the Student Union executive over the years. I wish them all well and look forward to hearing how initiatives develop.

Godfrey Cole was a law student at Holborn College of Law, Language and Commerce 1966-69 Lecturer in the Law School of PCL (Holborn had been incorporated into it by then) 1974-1992, Governor of the University of Westminster Trustee/Chair of the QHTC 2010-2021.

Godfrey will remain a co-opted member of the Grants Committee until the end of the current grant cycle in July and continue his work on the merger of the two trusts as a co-opted member the Governance Committee until April 2022.

Godfrey Cole chaired his final meeting of Trustees of the Quintin Hogg Trust on 13 April 2021. He is succeeded by Mr Bill Weston, Chairman and Dr Ann Rumpus, Deputy Chair.