The aim of the Harpenden Trust – to help Harpenden people in need, individually and collectively – remains the same as when it was founded in 1948 by local people, with Dr Charles Hill (later Lord Hill) the first President and Dr Agnes Kelynack the first Chairman.
In 1950 the Trust’s role was described by the Daily Sketch newspaper as, "a social experiment without parallel in this country” - the better-off helping the less well-off.
Even though Harpenden is regarded as a wealthy community, there are still residents suffering hardship - financial or otherwise - and people in need of the support of a good neighbour. The Harpenden Trust is here to be that good neighbour with the active support of the town’s residents.
For 60 years the Trust concentrated its support on Harpenden families and individuals. Then, in 2008, when Abbeyfield Harpenden closed down, the net proceeds of the sale of the property were handed over to the Trust (originally known as the Abbeyfield Benefaction but now more simply as the ‘Abbeyfield Endowment’) to be put into a separate Community Fund, with its income to benefit organisations, charities and community groups within Harpenden.
The original Trust, with its work with families and individuals, was renamed the Care Fund and, as a community organisation, it receives a grant from the Community Fund to help finance its activities.
The role of the Trust and the work of its volunteers was recognised in 2008 (its 60th birthday) with the bestowing of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest honour given to voluntary groups in the UK.
The Trust’s support for individuals, families and community organisations in the Harpenden area, the AL5 postal district, continues today, more than 70 years on from the Trust’s founding.
The history of the Trust’s first 70 years is recounted in, ’70 Not Out - the ongoing story of the Harpenden Trust’ and ‘A Lifeboat Moored in Harpenden: The Story of the Harpenden Trust – a unique local charity’. Both books together are available from the Trust, from the Harpenden Town Council offices and in a number of local shops, price £5.