A stunning landscape of El Grau de L’Inquisidor.
El Grau de L’Inquisidor © Herència Altés

Peter’s Top Ten

I founded The Peter De Haan Charitable Trust in 1999. Since that time, with the help and guidance of my trustees, the Trust has committed £28.6 million and helped more than 500 organisations in their charitable work.

Looking back, the story begins for me with two early donations we made. The first was to The Tenterden Day Centre project to purchase a new mini-bus to transport disabled people to the center and distribute meals to needy people. It was a simple gift, but one that enabled them to carry out essential services and reach more people in need. The second was to the Rainbow Trust, a children’s charity in Bristol, where we funded a marketing programme and a professional fundraiser, giving them the tools to grow and reach more children and families.

In the years that have followed, our philanthropy model has been based on building capacity, offering business advice, and harnessing the power of match funding. That way we stay involved, watch organisations grow over time, and encourage them to do more. We have enjoyed the greatest success with organisations that demonstrate sound management, strong leadership, and clear focus.

There have been many proud moments in the history of the Trust. Below are ten of my personal favourite projects from the early days with a short history of each. I haven’t included our two current flagship environmental projects in Spain, as they are new and it’s too soon to boast!

A beautiful landscape of the Ballynahone Bog at dawn.
Ballynahone Bog at dawn © Ben Hall / 2020 Vision

I start with the three projects which may perhaps have the most significant legacy;

1. Wildlife Trusts: Building capacity and influence

We have worked with five wildlife trusts over the years: Leicester and Rutland, London, Kent, Yorkshire and the John Muir Trust in Scotland. Our primary focus has been on helping them to build capacity, membership and influence, and concentrating our resources on just these five has had an enormous impact. 

From managing vast tracts of land in Scotland to planting oaks in Kent, to supporting training and education programmes, the work we have been able to support is both varied and invaluable. We have also supported the Trusts in their ongoing efforts to lobby and yield influence, whether on preservation issues, UK marine laws, or most importantly local authority S106 agreements.

2. Peat Bog Restoration: A Global Model

We are enormously proud of our work with The Peat Bog programme led by Professor Rob Stoneman and delivered through The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This was a vastly neglected conservation area when we first began supporting it, both in terms of understanding and no financial resources. 

Our support began with the funding of a Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands, which brought together experts in science, policy and practice to carry out a thorough review of key peatland issues. The report delivered a clear scientific consensus about peatland restoration, particularly in relation to climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem services. 

Today, peatland restoration is one of the IUCN’s six world priorities. In the UK, the government launched the Pilot Peatland Carbon Code which is vital to getting private money into peatland restoration by assuring private companies of the carbon savings they will achieve by investing. 

So we are beginning to see a change in attitude by government with monies being spent in this important area of conservation. Read more about this project.

3. The Abbeyfield Project: Retirement Accommodation

The Abbeyfield project, which we are proud to have helped finance, is a subsidised sheltered retirement accommodation and community. Located near Whitby, North Yorkshire, it has a capacity of 12 self-contained flats. 

It is particularly nice to have supported such a project as the wealth of the Trust came from my gift of shares in my family company, Saga, whose fortunes were made by selling services mainly to the older-aged community.

Turning to the area of troubled young adults and disadvantaged people;

4. Kid’s Company: Support and Restructuring

We have supported Kids Company over many years. During our long history with this wonderful organisation, we have specifically helped restructure its board of trustees, significantly reduced its liabilities and injected much needed cash to run its programmes in South London.

5. The Medway Model: Kids Company in Kent

Following on from our work with Kids Company, we decided to try to set up a similar project in the Medway area in Kent. We called it the Medway Project and created a match funding scheme, using Kids Company as consultants. 

The project was a huge success impacting large numbers of children by keeping them in full time education or minimizing their time in pupil referral units.

6. The Ilderton Motor Project

The Ilderton Motor Project based in Deptford, London was an interesting one. We were the principal funder of this innovative project, which offered young motor vehicle crime offenders the chance to turn their lives around. 

Opportunities include a vocational training programme in motor vehicle maintenance, safe driving courses, and career planning support. At the time we were very nervous about this project, but the results speak for themselves. 

The project is still going strong, and there’s no doubt that we have helped many troubled young adults to gain valuable vocational training and build their self-esteem.

7. Missing People

Missing People (formerly National Missing Persons Helpline) is a fantastic charity that helps thousands of families cope with the trauma of a missing person. We had been long-time supporters of their work, so when I received a call from Sir Norman Wakefield explaining that the organisation had fallen on hard times, we were glad to step in. 

Together we organised the restructuring of the charity, raising capital and negotiating home office contracts. New management was appointed and the charity has prospered since then, helping many thousands of people each year. 

This experience taught us the value of a speedy response, and we were pleased to be able to react quickly.

London Youth Support Trust in Deptford was local to where I lived for many years, and over time we helped nurture this organisation. It operates various centres in London providing young people with the space, support and mentoring they need to get started in business.

A performance by the National Youth Theatre.
© National Youth Theatre

In the area of arts education and community:

9. Theatre: The Old Vic and National Youth Theatre

The Trust has always supported the arts. Two theatre partnerships that stand out are The Old Vic and the National Youth Theatre. 

Our partnership with The Old Vic was unique due to its multi-strand approach supporting both talent development and community engagement, including a large school programme. Our relationship with the National Youth Theatre has been a rich and rewarding one that fits well with our Trust’s focus as they have both an artistic and social welfare bent. 

Both programmes have benefitted from investment of our funds enabling them to significantly increase their reach, and we have enjoyed watching them go from strength to strength.

Actors performing ANTLER.
ANTLER Theatre © Ambra Vernuccio

Last but not least:

10. IdeasTap: The Creative Network

Last but not least is IdeasTap, the creative network for young people starting out in the arts. Founded by the Trust in 2008 and established as an independent charitable entity in 2010, IdeasTap became a major creative network reaching many thousands of people through both its partner programmes and our self-funded ones, all promoted through the IdeasTap website. 

During the seven years the charity was running, IdeasTap awarded more than £2.3 million worth of direct funding and accompanying expert mentoring to emerging artists. Membership reached 200,000+ and partners included BFI, Magnum Photos, Mother London, The National Theatre, Royal Exchange Theatre and Sky Arts.