As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, it is fitting that we focus on the ground-breaking work of the Sprit Education Foundation. Madiba reminded us, “Education is the most powerful weapon in the world…Young people must take it upon themselves to ensure that they receive the highest education possible so that can represent us well in future as future leaders.” Tessa Smit narrates how the Spirit Education Foundation is contributing to Madiba’s vision for South Africa.
I was born in Warrington in 1962 and moved to South Africa in 1990. I arrived here having driven for seven months from London but fell in love with the country and the people and decided to stay.
In 1994, I decided I wanted to do something as a memory to my sister Louise, who passed away at only 19 years old. I also wanted to give something back to South Africa, which I felt had been very kind to me. I therefore approached Tessa Smit who I knew was retiring as a school principal and asked her to help me form what is now the Spirit Foundation. When we started we even assisted pre-schoolers and over the years have slowly evolved to the point where we decided to focus entirely on high school scholars.
The Spirit Foundation enjoyed yet another superb year as it celebrated its 21st anniversary as South Africa’s longest running and largest independently run educational foundation, dedicated as it is to Grade 8-12 scholars from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Never seeking to pursue purely academic excellence, but rather looking to create solid, decent, honest and hard working young South Africans, the Spirit Foundation was delighted with the excellent MATRIC results achieved by all of its Grade 12 scholars. Ian Kilbride, founder and chairman said, “Every single year the Spirit scholars inspire and motivate me. They are capable of delivering results that demonstrate the healthy and exciting future South Africa can, and will, enjoy. They are a shining light that defies the dark negativism that often pervades South Africa. I applaud them all and know that every year, under our incredible staff, the results and the positive energy will continue to grow and inspire others, well done everyone from the scholars to the scholar facilitators, from the trustees to our amazing donors, you are a great team.”
2015 saw the 21st anniversary of the Spirit Foundation, proudly founded by Ian Kilbride and Tessa Smit back in April 1994. This newsletter marked the change of name from Kids Foundation to Spirit Foundation. Of all entities he has ever started and built Kilbride is proudest of the Spirit Foundation. The Spirit Foundation was started in memory of Ian Kilbride’s sister Louise Kilbride who passed away in 1984, aged only 19. The launch year 1994, would have marked Louise’s 30th birthday, now the Spirit Foundation lives on and Ian Kilbride is committed to see it celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2019 and its 50th birthday in 2044. Asked about the Spirit Foundation recently reaching its 21st birthday, Kilbride stated, “My beautiful sister Louise may have never sadly reached this celebratory age, but she lives on in the hearts of all the Kilbride family and she is also remembered every day through the suburb work of Spirit Foundation.
“Doing what you say gets you what you want.”
This deceptively simple motto is the guiding philosophy of an inspiring man I know named Simon Ekin.
A recent meeting at Warwick was held to plan the next three years of the KiDS Foundation and how we can ensure that we arrive at its 21st anniversary fighting fit. The object is to be stronger better organised than ever before, which, if you know my board of trustees, is no mean feat as they are simply exceptional.
Anyway, I digress, at the end of that meeting one of the trustees was looking a little down in the mouth so I enquired what was wrong? She told me that she was a little depressed with “All the news!” Further enquiry elicited the fact that she was concerned for her children having to live in such a terrible world, a world with so many awful things happening not just on a daily but almost hourly basis!