Letter from James Handscombe
I’m writing to you today to share news of the newly-launched 2014 Society.
Harris Westminster was established to provide an outstanding academic education to bright young people from every background and neighbourhood across London with a special focus on the most disadvantaged.
When we opened, we looked across Victoria Street to Westminster School and decided that we too were building for a thousand years of history – something that sounded ridiculous when we said it from a school a few weeks old with a community of just over a hundred in a 1920s office block that the builders were still knocking into shape. Nine years in, however, we have made remarkable progress towards that vision.
You might remember an assembly from the depths of Remembrance Term in which we quoted the Guns and Roses song “November Rain” (this is a favourite that has recurred several times) and the line “Nothing lasts for ever and we all know hearts can change but it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain.” That’s relevant here because our success so far is no guarantee of our future and the cold rain for Harris Westminster is the position of our finances.
Over the past few years and months, we have started talking to former students about this. You have told us what you care about, and the answer was clear: supporting current students facing hardship.
As you know, hardship takes various forms: having to juggle a part-time job as well as four A Levels; worrying about parental or family finances; not having a quiet place to work; caring responsibilities; inability to participate fully in school life. Many of you faced these hardships at HWSF; many of our students are facing them now.
So, I am writing to you, those who joined us in 2014 or the intervening years.
The 2014 Society has been established to help us underpin this vision by meeting the most immediate and tangible needs of our current students. And tying you, our alumni, into this vision.
So, I invite you to join me in becoming a Founder member of the 2014 Society and pledging to support Harris Westminster on an ongoing basis
You’ll notice the numbers are a bit odd, but being odd is our idiom and as we build for our future we wanted to remember our history. We opened in 2014 with a vision for the school and for the difference we’d make to our students and, through them, to the wider world and we wanted to tie this society into that vision – to remember what the money donated is going towards. The amounts we’re asking for are therefore 2014 in one form or another.
- HWSF alumni who are still in full time education are encouraged to make a gift of £20.14 every year
- Once out of education we hope you’d like to make a gift of £201.40 every year, which is just £13.44 a month, with Gift Aid
- Friends and supporters who are not alumni can become honorary members of the 2014 society by making a gift which exceeds £2,014 a year (we would, of course, also be delighted if any of our alumni felt able to give that much).
As a member of the 2014 Society, and in recognition of your gift, you will receive a donor pin, have your name included in our annual list of donors, and you will be invited to special events celebrating Harris Westminster.
As you know, this is not the only way you can stay involved – and so many of you are giving your time, advice and experiences back to our students already.
I hope you’ll consider joining the 2014 Society – and do stay in touch, either way. It is always a joy to hear from you.