The Day Foundation – Coddenham
I am an outsider but frequent visitor to Coddenham, a village I regard as something of a model of English country life, and which I have enjoyed for the last twenty years. I became involved through The Rural Housing Trust where I was a trustee between 1989-2011 and chairman of RHT Developments, building around 3,300 affordable houses during that time in 300 villages mostly in the south of England. RHT had been approached by the Day Trustees to give advice on occupation and levels of charges to be made and the Chief Executive, Moira Constable, asked if I would make contact as the RHT trustee living in Suffolk.
My first meeting was with Sylvia Bickers, who I knew already, and John McNally who had been the accountant for the Day Family and been involved from the start. John revealed he was multi-hatted as chairman, secretary, treasurer, and auditor, to which I told him the Charity Commission would have a fit, so in short order he asked if I would take the chair, which I was pleased to do once I understood the ethos and purpose of the foundation.
At that point there were seven houses, all occupied, and a healthy bank balance. Some trustees had served their time and retired, one or two were recruited and currently we are five with those from the village being an accountant, an architect, a priest, one of the original trustees who doubles as a village historian, and me, with trustee meetings about every six weeks but considerable involvement on a regular basis.
Everything with the Day Foundation passes through and is organised by our General Manager, who is a model of energy, enthusiasm, and enterprise. The attention to detail given to residents is quite exceptional, as it is to everyone else with whom she engages.
The ethos of the Day Family was to create something which benefitted the whole community, essentially Coddenham first, and then the circle of villages around. While the initial instruction related to older people in need of a helping hand and to live in a community, a wider benefit could be given to whatever the trustees wished to support, a remarkably simple but clever idea which has allowed funds for the church, the school, the playground, the youth club, the community centre, the country club and school equipment with others receiving funds, perhaps on a matched funding basis.
Coddenham is unusually blessed with this charity and the Gardemau Charites. Although we are separate, there is liaison between us designed to benefit as many as possible. At a time of real need for many families some generous donations have been made by individuals in the village to the foundation, which are distributed quietly where genuine need can be identified.
We now have twenty-two houses, twenty in Mary Day Close with Haysel House, the office and social hub, and the Day Room being used for all manner of village events, always giving the sense of community instilled by the founders. The most recent houses are two we bought in the High Street which the trustees have specifically allocated for younger people, designed to provide first time accommodation, called Rosie’s Cottages after a much-loved younger trustee who died.
The Day Foundation exists to give support to the community and welcomes enquiries and contributions to further its aims. We are proud to have played a small part in encouraging a movement to ensure the village community is pulling in the same direction, certain the Day Family members would approve.
The Day Fiundation