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Betty and Roy Ure Memorial Fund

30 November 2016

When Betty Ure first set-up her Foundation Scotland Charitable Trust from a modest inheritance in 2002 even she couldn’t have foreseen the lasting effect of her generous donation. Fast forward a decade later and, now beyond Betty’s big-hearted lifetime, The Betty and Roy Ure Memorial Fund supports community projects and charities the length and breadth of Arran to the tune of £20,000 each year – a real lifeline strengthening the fabric of her beloved community.

Betty moved to Arran in the mid-fifties, initially to visit her aunt and uncle, settling first in Whiting Bay and then Kingscross, having met and married Roy Ure, local bank accountant. Daughter of a minister and strengthened by the values of her faith, Betty was infinitely compassionate and supportive of her local community.
Betty’s role as the Chair of the Social and Fundraising Committee in her local church was truly valued. As hospitable Chair, she made the gatherings welcoming, fun and rewarding. In addition to quizzes, music evenings, suppers and a beach BBQ, the group also compiled a local cookbook, in the spirit of community whilst raising local funds.

Like so many of her generation, Betty was embarrassed by wealth. When Roy died in 1981, leaving her their modest estate, she desired nothing more than her home, garden, cat, dog and, of course, her friendships through the community and church. However, Betty became the beneficiary of a trust, from a distant relative, of some £150,000. Given her nature she tried to turn it down.
When she learned that she had to receive the funds she discussed her options, particularly charitable ones, with Ronnie Anderson, her investment manager. Given his positive experience of Foundation Scotland he suggested to Betty that she could set up her own charitable trust under the Foundation’s auspices and could use annual returns to support local causes in and around Whiting Bay and across Arran. And, her trust could keep on giving beyond her lifetime.

Ronnie suggested the Foundation route not solely as it would be low cost but because the staff from the Foundation would take real interest in Betty’s wishes and find additional local charities for her to consider supporting. The Foundation set-up what was first titled ‘The Abington Trust’ so that Betty could give anonymously. She didn’t want her philanthropy to be known locally until after her death, and ‘The Abington Trust’ was renamed The Betty and Roy Ure Memorial Fund according to her wishes when she passed away.

Even though she chose to be discreet, the community groups and charities supported reflected Betty’s interests and the nature of island life and included local village halls and sports clubs as well as the work of the larger more well-known causes, RNLI and Scottish SPCA. The cheques always landed on the doormat on 17 July each year, Betty’s birthday. Ronnie recalls, “One of the highlights of my year was a visit to Betty, but it was a blessing to handover all the grant making arrangements to the Foundation”

Betty’s inclination to be charitable, in giving money as well as time, was ever-present in all her encounters. When good friend and neighbour Isobel suffered a kitchen fire and Betty’s was the nearest working phone line to call for help, Betty also came to the rescue with a picnic basket of food for Isobel and family. And when she calmly diffused the potentially dangerous situation of being threatened in her own home, at night by an intruder - a young man with a mental health illness - her court statement asked for leniency given his disturbed state. Such was the kind-hearted spirit and level-headedness of Betty Ure. Indeed, when the police attended the incident and set-up a cordon at her home she couldn’t see what the fuss was all about!

Betty’s minister, Reverend Elizabeth Watson recollects that if a project or the church needed something, and you carelessly mentioned this to Betty, it wouldn’t be long before whatever was required would appear! Elizabeth recalls the day when Betty admitted that “I’m sure it’s not you dear, but I can’t quite hear in the church anymore”. Within short order this led to a donation of a PA system for the church.

However, arguably the finest gift was of four stunning stained-glass windows, which continue to radiate warmth andSPRING SUMMER colour the length of the nave today. Betty explained that “the money will be in my will, however it would be much nicer if I could enjoy them now!” Avoiding what Betty described as ‘scary angels with horrible wings’ she and Reverend Watson commissioned renowned expert Christian Shaw to produce the ‘Four Seasons of Arran’.

Betty decided that she would increase her support for local causes. From an initial fund of £150,000 in 2002, the value of her Trust grew in three ways, from: modest annual donations, which would have been tax efficient for Betty; the residual value of her estate on her passing; and the growth of the Trust over a decade of prudent investment management. Now, her Trust value has climbed to over £800,000 which provides over almost £20,000 each year in support of over 20 local charities and community groups including Whiting Bay Bowling Club, Isle of Arran Mountain Rescue Team and Kildonan Hall & Improvements Committee.

One of the recipients of Betty’s generous support said, “‘The Arran community works hard to provide a rich programme of cultural events, but our own resources would never give us the chance to hear internationally renowned professional musicians as we can from time to time…Countless people here have benefitted from your generosity, and I know I can speak for all of them in sending the appreciation and heartfelt thanks. “

Betty knew of and attended many of these groups, including being a leading light of the Whiting Bay Club of Music and Drama up until the 1970’s. Indeed, her friend Gill recalls fondly their rendition of the ballad of Bessy Bell and Mary Gray, the "twa bonnie lassies”. Another group of which Betty was a leading light was the ‘Ladies that walk’, whereupon every Tuesday morning they would visit spots such as Kildonan, Brodick Castle and the Holy Isle, a great opportunity to stay in touch and to keep body and soul very much alive. In their later years, when the spirit was willing but the body less so the group became the ‘Ladies that lunch’ which maintained their friendships and kept isolation at bay.

Several years on, the cheques still arrive on Betty’s birthday, just as she wished, and the Foundation keeps an eye on her favourite charities and community projects, ensuring the local causes so close to Betty’s heart are supported and continue to thrive even after her death in 2010. The spirit of The Betty and Roy Ure Memorial Fund lives on.

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