Announcing the first ACT community grants for 2019

15 February 2019

Ardonagh Community Trust (ACT) is pleased to kickstart the first round of community grants for 2019, by announcing an inspiring list of recipients from across the UK, championed by employees from across the Group.

Through a difficult judging process and following a record number of applications, ACT’s board of trustees identified 10 individuals who are activity supporting organisations, causes and projects close to their hearts.

As a result, 10 communities across the UK will receive a share in over £26,000, adding to the growing number of recipients ACT has supported since 2017.

St. Thomas’ Neonatal Unit Special Purpose Fund

Submitted by Neil Bramley of Price Forbes

In April 2017, Price Forbes' employee Neil's son was diagnosed with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) due to a severe deprivation of oxygen at birth. He went on to receive special treatment at St Thomas' Hospital in London which involved 24 hour care by a dedicated neonatal intensive care nurse. A year on, the family would like to show their gratitude by giving back to the invaluable support received from the team at St Thomas' hospital.

Neil will be taking part in a 55-mile bike ride to raise funds for the Neonatal Unit and is excited to see St Thomas' awarded a grant of £3000 in addition to his personal efforts.

Firefly Cancer Awareness & Support

Submitted by Scott Robertson of URIS Group

Firefly Cancer Awareness & Support is an organisation extremely close to the heart of URIS Group employee Scott Robertson.  

The Doncaster based charity is reliant solely on volunteers to provide free transport to local cancer patients and their families travelling to and from regional treatment hospitals.

With seven vehicles currently in the fleet, Firefly are hoping to expand to cope with an increase in demand for their services.

Having already raised £21,000 with Scott’s support, Firefly will now receive a further £4000 community grant to help the team get closer to the goal of purchasing a new vehicle at the cost of £31,000.

In 2017, Scott utilised Firefly’s services when he required five and a half weeks of radiotherapy treatment for a brain tumour.

He describes the organisation as being all about life, living it to the full and enjoying every second, whilst raising cancer awareness, offering support, meeting new friends and bringing communities together.

Woolston Community Primary School

Submitted by Wesley Vernon of Carole Nash

Carole Nash’s Wesley Vernon is a parent and a school Governor at Woolston Community Primary, a mainstream primary school that also provides support to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Wesley has been successful in his application for the school, with ACT awarding a £3000 grant to develop the pond and surrounding wooded area in the school grounds, a project that will be hugely beneficial to the children by providing them with opportunities to access a sensory area and feed their sensory diet.

A sensory diet (as it is known) is an essential element in supporting children with ASD and being able to provide this in a natural outdoor area will become a huge benefit for the school and the students.

The grant will go now towards the build of a new decking area as well as multiple sensory activities including a gardening area, windmill set, a wicker hideaway den, reading chair and a water fountain.

Featherby Junior School

Submitted by Natalie Ellson of The Ardonagh Group Finance

Natalie Ellson works in the Group Finance team for Ardonagh and applied for a grant to help Featherby Junior School purchase and install flooring to suit recently purchased outdoor play equipment.

The equipment and play area project was established in memory of a student and classmate of Natalie’s daughter, Matthew, who sadly took his own life in the summer of 2018.

It was a devastating moment for the whole school community and something that brought the issue of mental health and wellbeing to the forefront of everyone’s minds.

The students took part in a month-long mini enterprise project to raise money and were able to rally together to so something positive in remembrance.

A grant of £1500  from ACT will mean the children can finally see the play equipment installed and ready for use in time for the first anniversary of Matthew’s death.

Tom Lowe Boxing Club

By Wesley Griffiths of Autonet

Tom Lowe Boxing Club is in Kidsgrove, a disadvantaged area of Stoke-on-Trent where one in eight young people are diagnosed with mental health problems.

The facility provides affordable sport and exercise opportunities for the community, as well as providing positive diversionary activities to help combat anti-social behaviour and improve mental wellbeing.

This cause is close to many hearts at Autonet as Tom Lowe’s has had such a huge impact on the local community, with many employees who attend classes frequently.

The club has recently seen an increase in visitors following the closure of Kidsgrove’s sport centre due to government cuts, and when the owner of the gym was sadly diagnosed with terminal cancer, the number of fundraising events which keep the club operating, unfortunately dropped off.

Thanks to Wesley Griffiths and the team from Autonet, the club has been awarded a £4000 grant towards equipment and training to ensure the gym is self-sufficient and can continue to empower and give confidence to so many people in the Stoke-on-Trent community.

Arc Centre

Submitted by Ashley Hammond of Atlanta Group

Ashley Hammond, Internal Communications and Engagement Manager from Atlanta, applied for a grant on behalf of Arc Centre and Gallery, a leading arts and mental health organisation based out of Stockport, who provide opportunities for people to explore their creativity, connect with each other and learn new skills.

Arc has a 20-year track record of producing transformational arts projects which engage and include marginalised groups, promote wellbeing and recovery from mental ill-health, and reach thousands of audiences across the North West.

Their aim is to reach as many vulnerable, isolated adults and young people as possible, offering opportunities to transform lives through creative projects and address the effects of loneliness, poverty and isolation, providing services which connect people and safe, welcoming, inclusive spaces.

A cause close to her heart, Ashley’s mum is a dedicated volunteer at Arc and has worked with vulnerable young people for over 30 years.

A grant of £2100 from ACT will go towards the continuation of arts and wellbeing outreach projects and dedicated art studio groups, supporting individuals and groups from different backgrounds and circumstances.

Winsford Community Disabled Football Group

Submitted by Jenny Devaney of Atlanta Group

Winsford Community Disabled Football Group is an organisation with around 30 members offering inclusivity in sports for children with learning and physical disabilities.

Operating in a town with high rates of unemployment and social deprivation, the community has rallied around this cause, which is run by five teenage volunteer coaches from an Under-16 football squad who selflessly give up their spare time each week to support local children.

Jenny Devaney, one of Atlanta Group’s Directors, is committed to ensuring the longevity and ongoing success of this club and a £3000 grant from ACT will now assist with the planned expansion to offer more resources and more opportunities for families to benefit from this fantastic project.

Robert Brennan

Submitted by Ian Donaldson of Atlanta Group

Robert Brennan is a local schoolboy from Stoke-on-Trent, and son of a close friend to Ian Donaldson, CEO of Atlanta Group (Autonet, Carole Nash and Swinton).

A couple of days before Christmas, Robert became unwell with flu like symptoms which quickly progressed, seeing him in an ambulance to Leighton hospital on Christmas eve with a suspected kidney infection.

Robert was soon diagnosed with severe pneumonia and sepsis, put in a medically-induced coma and transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital's critical care unit where he also tested positive for swine flu. Today, he is still fighting for his life on a life support machine.  

ACT has awarded Ian a grant of £2000 to go towards Robert’s family to support him whilst he is in hospital and eventually, the much-needed care he will need when he is allowed home.


Submitted by Mark Robertson of Group HR, The Ardonagh Group

ACT has awarded a grant of £2500 to Safeline, a specialised charity working to prevent sexual abuse and to support those affected in their recovery, as submitted by Mark Robertson from Ardonagh’s HR team.

The grant will go towards recruitment of Safeline counsellors to help provide support for people within the Warwickshire and surrounding areas, including those who suffer from mental health issues.

Mark currently provides regular support and is involved in many fundraising events including a recent murder mystery evening with supper which raised over £1300.

RAF Air Cadets

Submitted by Kate Metcalfe of Towergate Advisory

Kate Metcalfe, from Towergate Advisory, was successful in her application to support the Royal Air Force’s Air Cadets, an organisation that offers young people from all walks of life a chance to get active, learn new skills and make new friends in an inspirational and safe environment.

Kate has been a member of the Air Cadet organisation for 18 years, and is currently the commanding officer of 1894 Swaffham Squadron, a position she has held for two years.

A community grant of £1500 from ACT will assist the Air Cadet organisation to purchase new equipment to teach the principles of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in a fun and innovative way.

This support will assist the group to continue to achieve their aims of promoting and encouraging a practical interest in aviation and the RAF among young people as well as providing training useful in the services and civilian life, and encouraging the spirit of adventure to develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship.