The Trust was established by J.Anthony Clark (1908-1985). Known to many as Tony, he worked at C&J Clark Ltd. eventually becoming a Director. Tony, along with two of his cousins, played a major role in taking the company from a small regional shoe manufacturer to an international brand.
Community was important to Tony. He was High Sheriff of Somerset and represented Street as Somerset County Councillor, serving as its chairman in the 1970’s.
Tony Clark created the JA Clark Charitable Trust in 1971 with an endowment of Clarks Shares. The dividends from these shares were reinvested creating an endowed trust with income that is now used to provide grants for charitable organisations. Tony had been a magistrate and initially the Trust focused on supporting police charities, the rehabilitation of offenders and youth crime initiatives. Tony also supported the development of Millfield school.
With the increasing involvement of Tony Clark’s children funding themes became more diversified. In the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s the Trust supported work broadly associated with promoting peace and the social and economic development of Africa and Asia as well as supporting local organisations. Jo Pelly, Tom Clark and Caroline Pym, Tony’s children, successively became Chair of Trustees, each following a distinctive agenda. They all shared a strong belief that smaller local charities with a strong and passionate leadership can create social change. The Trust was rededicated with a new Trust Deed in 1992 and at this time some of Tony’s grandchildren joined the Trustee Board.
In the twenty first century, the Trust continued to evolve, gradually moving from being a generalist funder to identifying distinctive themes. In 2006 Caroline Pym, Tony’s daughter, identified Women’s Empowerment in the Middle East, Africa and Asia as a key issue and it quickly became a major funding programme for the Trust. The Trust also has a long history of supporting youth initiatives in London aimed at inspiring disadvantaged young people into finding work and employment.
In 2019 the Trust engaged in a far-reaching strategic review to ensure that the Trust remains relevant in the rapidly changing world of today. The outcome is a rejuvenated Trustee Board that now includes a great-grandchild of Tony Clark, a greater focus on using the Trust’s endowment to further its charitable aims and the decision to focus funding on just one neglected issue: forcibly displaced people and climate change. The Trust is proud to be a founder signatory of the Funder Commitment on Climate Change.