Past Projects

Some of our most successful projects are listed below:

British Chess

As a boy Jim Slater enjoyed playing Monopoly and draughts but his main indoor hobby was chess.  He stopped playing chess after leaving school as he found it took too much time and concentration while studying for accountancy.

Some chess piecesIt was not until a colleague asked Jim to teach him to improve his game in the late 1960s that his interest in chess was rekindled.  For a short while Jim joined a London chess club but found he preferred correspondence chess which he could play much more conveniently when he returned home in the evening.  Jim did quite well in his correspondence club, going up a few grades, until he reached a level at which it became hard work.

Jim had maintained a link with Leonard Barden, who was a British Champion and a chess correspondent.  With his help Jim began subsidising the annual Hastings Tournament with a view to expanding it so that leading players would have a chance to qualify as international masters.  Other countries would not invite British players to play in their tournaments until they became international masters so they were in an impossible situation.  The small amount of help Jim was able to give to Hastings was arranged in a very low-key way and attracted very little publicity.  The 1972 World Chess Championship would prove to be a very different proposition.

For the previous two decades the Russians had dominated world chess and then the West produced two exceptional players – Bobby Fischer of the USA and Bent Larsen of Denmark.  In particular, Fischer had fantastic potential but he was handicapped by being extremely temperamental.

In the final rounds of the World Chess Championship the players were playing the best of ten games.  In the quarter finals Fischer won six games to nil.  In the semi-final Fischer was paired with Larsen and also beat him six games to nil.  This had never happened before in world chess, and for the first time it looked as if the Russians were going to get a run for their money.

In the last qualifier Fischer came up against Petrosian, a brilliant defensive player.  Fischer won the first game but lost the second.  The next three games were drawn.  It was said by some that Fischer had a bad cold and everyone wondered if he could regain his earlier momentum.  After this relapse he won the next four games.  This made Fischer challenger to Spassky.  Spassky too was a brilliant attacking player and had been a chess genius since early childhood, so it promised to be an exceptional match.

While preparations were being made for the World Championship in Iceland, Fischer began complaining about the prize money which he thought should be doubled.

“I was driving into London early one Monday morning in mid-July feeling disappointed that after all the build-up Fischer might not be taking on Spassky, when it suddenly occurred to me that I could easily afford the extra prize money personally.  As well as providing me with a fascinating spectacle for the next few weeks it would give chess players throughout the world enormous pleasure for the match to proceed.”

Jim Slater

This BBC news link explains the situation.

Icelandic First Day Cover

The match between Fischer and Spassky was a most exciting one and fully up to everyone’s expectations.  Fischer won convincingly.

The illustration shows an Icelandic First Day Cover of a new stamp commemorating the 1972 World Chess Championships.

A few months later, in an endeavour to help our young players, Jim Slater offered on behalf of The Slater Foundation to give a prize of £5,000 (well over £50,000 in today’s money) to the first British Grandmaster and £2,500 to each of the next four.  Over the next few years Great Britain progressed from no Grandmasters to twenty with one of the strongest teams of young chess players in the world.

British Tennis

A picture of Tim HenmanIn 1980 The Slater Foundation formed a partnership with David Lloyd, the British Davis Cup player, and Reeds School near Cobham in Surrey.  The partnership’s aim was to take promising, young players and provide them with concentrated tennis coaching alongside their schooling with the hope that one or more of them would play in the Men’s Final at Wimbledon and other Grand Slam Tournaments.

At the time the Lawn Tennis Association’s training programme started boys at thirteen.  David Lloyd thought they should begin training hard at ten.

David Lloyd managed the squad and The Slater Foundation financed the training and schooling for the boys as well as the upgrading of the tennis facilities at Reeds School.  The scheme soon proved successful with Chris Bailey and Jamie Delgado doing well and Tim Henman becoming, at one time, number four in the world and reaching six Grand Slam semi-finals including Wimbledon.

The Lawn Tennis Association took note and later started its own training programme at an earlier age.

Look on our Current Projects page to find out more about our recent support for young tennis star Jobim Ffrench.

Claremont Landscape Garden

Claremont Landscape Garden is one of the earliest surviving English Landscape Gardens still featuring its 18th century layout.  The extensive landscaped grounds represent the work of some of the best-known landscape gardeners including Charles Bridgeman, Capability Brown, William Kent and Sir John Vanbrugh.

Work began on the gardens in 1715 and by 1727 they were described as ‘the noblest of any in Europe’.

In 1949 the gardens were donated to The National Trust for stewardship and protection.  Unfortunately by the 1970s, after many years of neglect, the gardens were overgrown and in a poor state.

Amphitheatre

In 1975 a restoration programme was launched following a sizeable donation from The Slater Foundation.  An unusual turfed amphitheatre was discovered during the work.  In an annual summer event hundreds of visitors now descend on Claremont, many in costume, to enjoy four days of music, theatre and fireworks.

Callum Berry

Twins Callum and Luke Berry were born ten weeks prematurely in August 2004.  Callum was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy soon after he was born.  His brother, Luke, has no disability.

Cerebral Palsy affects movement and posture and is caused by brain damage before, after or during a birth.  The damage cannot be reversed and produces life-long disabilities.  However there are operations and procedures available which can dramatically alter a suffer’s life.

Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is a method of treatment for Spastic Cerebral Palsy offered at The Center for Cerebral Palsy Spasticity at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, USA.  The medical team at the hospital have a 100% success rate and many hundreds of children who have had the operation can all now walk.  Only a handful of similar operations have been carried out in the UK.

Callum’s family set their sights on raising £45,000 so that he could go to the USA to have his life-changing operation to enable him to walk.  During the early part of 2011 they held many fundraising events and set up a page on Facebook and their own website.  The fundraising brought the family closer together and challenged them as they took part in a series of events including a skydive.  By the summer they had raised well over half the money and an October date had been booked for Callum’s operation.  The Slater Foundation made a donation to ensure the target figure was reached in time.

Callum had two operations in October 2011.  The first removed dead nerves in the spine and the second stretched tendons in his legs.  Callum’s ability to walk improved daily using his walker and a specially designed bike.  The life-changing operation was a success.

Isabella McGuire Mayes

In 2009 an article appeared in the London Evening Standard about a young ballerina under the headline ‘I need support to keep my Russian dance dream alive’.

15 year old Isabella McGuire Mayes had started attending the prestigious Vaganova Ballet Academy in St Petersburg but the costs were putting a strain on her family and they were desperately seeking help to fund her future.

Isabella had been shortlisted for the Great Britons competition run by British Airways which helps young, gifted people studying abroad by meeting their travel costs.  Isabella won the competition but the academy fees, health insurance and the extensive physiotherapy and massage were still a huge financial burden on her family.  Her mother Ann McGuire said:

“It is difficult to find the money to support her because the costs are similar to funding an Olympic athlete.  When she started dancing at the age of two I had no idea what was in store but 13 years down the line I’m looking at a young woman who people tell me could be a star.  How can I let her down?”

The Slater Foundation agreed to pay Isabella’s tutition fees and the costs of her sports massage and athletic nutrition while the legal organisation, the Scriveners of the City of London, sponsored her pointe shoes.

Izzy, as her friends call her, studied at the same academy which produced stars including Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinksy.  As the only English speaking girl she had to learn Russian.  Training was gruelling and intense with six to eight hours ballet a day.

In Summer 2010 Izzy was spotted by a top Russian choreographer and was asked to join the Mikhailovsky Ballet on their trip to London to perfom Swan Lake.  She danced as a swan at the Coliseum.  Izzy was highly thought of at the Vaganova Ballet Academy and achieved top marks in her 2011 exams. In her final year at the Academy Isabella was asked to audition for the Mariinksy and was offered a place at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg – the two top companies in Russia.  She chose the Mikhailovsky and began building up her repertoire as soloist rather than a corps de ballet dancer.  Isabella is one of the top ballet dancers with the Mikhailovsky Theatre today.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Bumblebees are important pollinators.  In the last 70 years two species have become extinct in the UK and others have declined dramatically.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) aims to prevent further declines and to raise awareness of the importance of the Bumblebee and the problems they face.

The Slater Foundation donated the final piece of funding for the BBCT’s £790,000 ‘Bees for Everyone’ project in 2012.  This wider, three-year project has very ambitious aims to help the UK’s Bumblebees through both the conservation of wildflower habitats and the education of the wider British public.

The Foundation’s support meant that the BBCT produced all 13 factsheets, it had planned, in the first year rather than staggering them over three years.  These Land Management Factsheets played a critical role in engaging various audiences in the plight of the Bumblebee and provided them with the specific practical information that garnered a more immediate impact on our landscape.  The factsheets were handed out at all events the BCCT attends – nearly 500 over the project.  Additionally the sheets were made available electronically.

It is hoped that the factsheets have persuaded more farmers and other landowners to set aside additional ground for wildflowers.  This benefits the Bumblebee and other pollinators and should lead to increased agricultural productivity as well as improving the richness and colour of Britain’s landscape.

www.bumblebeeconservation.org

Birthright

The Childbirth Research Centre was funded initially by The Nuffield Foundation, the Variety Club of Great Britain and the National Birthday Trust to research the expectant mother and the unborn child.  Their objective was to reduce the number of women and babies who died during pregnancy and childbirth by encouraging scientific and medical research.

In the late 1960s its founder, Will Nixon, died and its future funding looked doubtful.  A number of notable people joined the board.  Jim Slater became Chairman and raised funds actively.

Birthright logoIn April 1975 the name was changed to Birthright.  The Slater Foundation continued to assist Birthright for several years.  The Princess of Wales became its Principal Patron and the name changed to Wellbeing.

The charity became ‘Wellbeing of Women’ in 2004 and as a united charity with the National Birthday Trust is one of the oldest medical charities in the UK.  In 2007 Sarah Brown, Gordon Brown’s wife, became patron and the charity continues to improve the lives of millions of women affected by reproductive problems in the UK.