All four of our children have thoroughly enjoyed, or are still benefiting from, a school whose motto is simply, ‘We shall give back’. At first, I must admit, I found the line a little obvious and cheesy, but I now think that, if nothing else, it has always reminded my wife and I that as parents we should ensure that our children are considerate to other people’s needs and grow up to be adults who will also be kind, as well as generous of spirit and their time, willing always to help anyone less fortunate than themselves.
It is an old and accepted adage that ‘Charity begins at home’, and yet at 55 years old I still have no idea what that means! So, I have simply assumed it to be, ‘Ensure that your own family are safe, housed and fed. After that look to others and do what you can to make their lives better.’ Rotary and Masonic Clubs also say, take care of your home and business and then deliver charity. I assume that this all means the same thing, look after your loved ones, then your own source of security and then use that solid base to then do positive things.
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and most other religions encourage their followers to do good deeds and there are thousands of examples, from all creeds, of followers putting others before themselves, however, no religion has a monopoly on doing good. Today it’s often hard to ‘differentiate philanthropy from publicity’, then again perhaps it does not matter, as long as the end result is that the less fortunate garner some benefit that they otherwise would never have enjoyed.
I am personally a very lucky man, and regardless of what the future brings, I have always worked diligently and thus enjoyed a ‘fair’ degree of good fortune. I knew very early on in my adult life that I had ‘to give back’. More importantly my upbringing, in an English, working class, Anglican home meant I often saw and experienced both sides of what was needed. Yet these needs were, and still remain, neglected by those who have the means, but not the sense of decency, understanding or desire to assist the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
I have now been in business paying my own way for 25 years. I have lived more of my life in Africa than in Europe and I have seen more natural talent, humility and ability in African scholars than I have in many English private schools.
Warwick, who I am the CEO and Chairman of in Africa, deal with thousands of clients who live, as we would say in Lancashire, a ‘comfortable life’, and I am also delighted that they have always supported the company’s ‘community’ projects.
Spirit Education Foundation, was founded in memory of my sister Louise, during the month of our first free elections, back in April 1994 and over the last 23 years it has educated hundreds of scholars and funded thousands of years of education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Its largest sponsor has always been Warwick. Warwick also support the ‘Big Issue’ in Cape Town, as well as the Spirit Wildlife Fund, established by my wife Jooles Kilbride an animal activist, it is dedicated to saving the lives of young rhinos.
Supported by four Warwick directors, I am the chairman of Lord’s Taverners SA (LTSA), the UK Patron being Prince Philip and the President Sir Michael Parkinson. LTSA offers a ‘Sporting Chance’ to disabled and disadvantaged children in South Africa, it is an amazing organisation.
The ‘Spirit Foundation International’ (SPI), which I am also very proud to chair, supports disadvantaged children in the north west of England via, Everton in the Community (EITC) and the Everton Free School (EFS). It also helps fund ‘Warwick University in Africa’, a scheme that sends Warwick University graduates to teach in township schools in Africa, predominantly South Africa, Ghana and Tanzania.
I would therefore like to take a moment to thank everyone, including the generous staff and clients of Warwick who assist Warwick, Spirit, LTSA, EITC, EFS, Warwick in Africa, the Big Issue and also the ‘Little Optimist’, a charity run by Greg Bertish, an amazing man committed to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.
If I am ever asked, ‘So what can I do?’ I answer as I did to my friend Greg, ‘Just go out and do some good’, because that is all we can ever hope to achieve!