News: St Bede’s College announces Francis Ingham Legacy Fund 

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St Bede’s College has announced The Francis Ingham Legacy Fund, a new philanthropic effort memorialising deceased St. Bede’s alumnus and global public relations association executive, Francis Ingham, at the one-year mark of his passing at the age of 47 (22 December 1975 – 16 March 2023).

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The Francis Ingham Legacy Fund will seek to underwrite counselling services for disadvantaged students who struggle with trauma from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs pose serious potential threats to a child’s short-term and lifelong wellbeing, particularly if left untreated through proper counselling interventions.

According to the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), ACEs are, by definition, “highly stressful, and potentially traumatic, events or situations that occur during childhood and/or adolescence. They can be a single event, or prolonged threats to, and breaches of, the young person’s safety, security, trust, or bodily integrity.” (Young Minds, 2018).”

St Bede’s College has launched a public fundraising site for The Francis Ingham Legacy Fund through the platform, with an initial goal of £100,000. An anonymous supporter of St Bede’s established the fund with an initial gift and has pledged to match the first £20,000 milestone of giving as raised from other donors.

This larger collection of funds provides bursaries to children of underprivileged / disadvantaged backgrounds to attend St. Bede’s College, in the same form of charitable funding that allowed a young Francis Ingham to attend St. Bede’s in the late 1980s / early 1990s.

The Francis Ingham Legacy Fund envisages to help equip students suffering from ACEs with an ability to process mentally and emotionally the resulting damage rendered to their lives.

In doing so, students can develop healthier coping skills to mitigate effects of prior trauma. The Fund’s larger aim is to help challenged pupils avoid short-term or lifelong forms of dangerous self-harm resulting from unresolved, untreated trauma tied to ACE events. 

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) reports that examples of ACEs can include physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; living with someone who has abused drugs or alcohol; exposure to domestic violence; living with someone who has gone to prison; living with someone with serious mental illness; and/or losing a parent through divorce, death, or abandonment.

U.K. data indicates that higher incidents of ACEs tend to occur among people with lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Prior academic studies also reveal that six ACE events can reduce one’s life expectancy by 20 years.

Other insights published about ACEs as reported by Indiana University Health cite that “Typically, the parents of a child who experiences ACEs faced similar abuse or neglect when they were children, too. This effectively creates a vicious cycle that can last generations.”

“This specific charitable focus of The Francis Ingham Legacy Fund is the first of its kind for St. Bede’s, and we embrace this opportunity to serve at-risk students in such an important way while honouring the memory of a devoted alumnus,” said St. Bede’s College headteacher María Kemp.

“Knowing this fund’s purpose is driven by Francis’ own personal childhood journey – which he shared publicly in more recent years – will help expand awareness of unique hardships that some students face privately and courageously, well outside the classroom,” said St. Bede’s College chairman of the Board Xavier Bosch. “Supporting these students by giving their struggles a voice is a meaningful legacy, indeed.”

According to documented accounts that Francis Ingham later self-disclosed in the public domain, Mr. Ingham’s own early life and childhood were atypical of someone who later would become an executive and global leader in his field.

Having grown up in a troubled home situated in Manchester’s local government-funded housing, amid early childhood years of disjointed school attendance, Mr. Ingham endured a long series of childhood traumas. The repercussions and consequences followed him for the remainder of his life, in a silent backdrop to his otherwise significant career success, widely acknowledged in his industry.

Mr. Ingham’s public recollections of his childhood years included comments about St. Bede’s College’s positive role, during a recorded interview in 2017 with the PRmoment Podcast, hosted by Mr. Ingham’s colleague, Ben Smith. Mr. Smith later would serve as a eulogist at Mr. Ingham’s funeral in 2023. During this 2017 interview, Mr. Ingham said of St. Bede’s positively intervening while he lived for two years in a Catholic hostel: “St. Bede’s was a very kind, benign school to me. They took me back, without paying any school fees. They pushed me all the way through Sixth Form. In fact, the headmaster of the school subsidised me. Sometimes when people make a political point for a moment… sometimes when people bash private schools and their charitable status and so on, I say they probably ought to look at my old school, which made a loss on me, purely because it thought it was the right thing to do. And with their support, I went to Oxford.”

Fellow St Bede’s College alumni as well as colleagues and friends of Francis Ingham are encouraged to donate to the Fund and re-share news of the Fund on social media, to help inform others of this giving opportunity.