Statement on Owen Simon's Legacy

The late Owen Simon, a BSA member who passed away in 2018

6th July 2020

Stamma have now received the remainder of the late Owen Simon's legacy, from the sale of his house, in the region of £790K. This is a generous and very significant legacy and the Trustees are aware of the responsibility of using this money wisely. Following discussions, this is our position:

  1. Reserves Policy. Although, in the past, the Trustees have had the aim of setting aside the equivalent of six months' expenditure as a reserve to cover the risk of unforeseen emergencies, that aim has rarely been achieved. To put the charity on a firmer financial footing, the Trustees have decided to set aside £150,000 of Owen’s legacy as a reserve. This equates approximately to six months' expenditure.
  2. We want to establish an Owen Simon Award of £5K each year for projects supporting young people who stammer.
  3. The impact of the pandemic has resulted in lower levels of income than planned. Consequently, the two new staff posts to be part-funded by the Lottery were put on hold. We can now go ahead with the appointments for Supporter Care and for Local Groups Coordination as an investment in the future of Stamma. 
  4. After setting aside money for reserves, and after accounting for matched funding with the Lottery grant, we will have in the region of £500K which we need to consider how best to use and/or invest.

Given the uncertain economic environment which faces us in the immediate future we believe that now is not the time to invest in the money market.  We cannot expect, in the current climate, to see much return on this sum, and indeed there is the potential to lose large amounts of money, certainly in the short term.

We have therefore decided to spread this sum across a number of banks accounts, each with a max of £85K, protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. We will open a range of accounts from shorter-term 30-day accounts to accounts running from one to three years ensuring that, should we need lump sums of cash, they will be available at staged intervals. 

We will explore investing in Stamma itself to expand the support we provide to members and local groups, and to develop an aggressive membership recruitment campaign so that we reach and support more people in the UK who stammer. At the same time, we must ensure that we are capable of being sustainable at a higher level of operation. These proposals will be taken to the board and progress monitored to ensure any promotional campaign is cautious and controlled, and that we can withdraw from any exercise which is not giving a return on our investment.

We will continue to review the above in the light of changing circumstances. At the moment no avenue is completely closed, but whilst the financial climate is in flux we believe the most prudent course of action is to protect this investment until such times as we have a clear course of action.

Read 'Owen Simon: A Recollection', written by former BSA Librarian and friend John Ford.

(Image: Owen Simon)