Charitable Structure

Upon his death in 1957, the school’s third Headmaster, W.B. Harris, made two generous bequests. The business, Saint Ronan’s School, was left to Sir Richard Vassar-Smith. Tongswood Estate, which he had purchased in 1945 to house the school, was left in trust for Saint Ronan’s School’s continued use and benefit. This trust is called the W.B. Harris Will Trust and is independent of the school itself, with its own board of trustees.

Sir Richard Vassar-Smith took over the school and two generations of Vassar-Smiths made Saint Ronan’s their home and life. Sir John Vassar-Smith retired in 1997. At this point, he converted the School from a proprietorial business to an educational trust.

There are thus two separate charitable trusts. The first is the Harris Will Trust, who are the freeholders of the estate. The second is Saint Ronan’s School which, as life tenant of the W.B. Harris Will Trust, has the right to occupy the estate and receive all its income in perpetuity. The list of the school’s trustees is published online.

The two charitable trusts are separate entities but the School and the Harris Will Trust, as landlord and tenant, meet regularly and work closely together.

In 2009 a third charity, The Saint Ronan’s Appeal Fund, was set up by the Harris Will Trust. Its function is to assist the Harris Will Trust in financing the development of the estate. The trustees of the Harris Will Trust are the trustees of the Appeal Fund. The school has been appointed as agent to the Saint Ronan’s Appeal Fund, allowing it to manage the raising of funds from the school community.

The recent Campaign for the Sports Hall shows how these three Trusts, although separate, work together. The school, in its role as agent to the Saint Ronan’s Appeal Fund, managed the raising of funds from its community members. The funds raised were collected by the Appeal Fund to part finance the construction of the Sports Hall by the Harris Will Trust, who will be the owners of the new building.

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