Guest Blog By Alex Wade, Chair Of Governors
Just before half-term we took ownership of our permanent site. We leave our temporary premises with fond memories, as well as frustrating ones, but with a real sense of excitement about boys – finally – walking through the gates of our home.
The building is exceptional. And we want it to become a real local landmark. To this end, I hope local residents and businesses will want to get involved in equipping the building so it not only provides an outstanding educational environment for our boys, but also all the facilities from which local community groups, sports clubs and charities can benefit out of school hours.
FBS will never forget its roots – the local parents, teachers and residents who championed our cause to create a new boys’ secondary school for Fulham. It took their belief and a ‘can do’ culture to get us where we are today. We now need the support of our community again, to make the ‘school’ building a vibrant local hub.
I hope many will want to contribute and, today, I am delighted to announce our first ‘founder funder’ of the school. The Bender Family Trust have kindly agreed to sponsor the bleacher seating in our sports hall (which will now be named Ray’s Hall) at a cost of £70,000.
Few schools nowadays are able to have full school assemblies. Yet, this is a core part of the FBS ethos. To enable these to happen, the Bender Family have provided this donation to commemorate the life of Ray Bender.
Ray was born in Fulham, to a family that struggled to make ends meet. All 16 members of the extended family lived under one roof with no bathroom or WC. As a young child, he was struck down by polio. He was not expected to survive and spent several weeks in an iron lung. He was read his last rites by the priest before, against all the odds, making a miraculous recovery. However, he was left with lifelong physical disabilities and, against the wishes of his family, was sent to live at Hatchford Park – a residential school for children with disabilities, in Surrey. This was a deeply unhappy period in his life.
Despite this difficult start, Ray became a successful local businessman. He was one of the founder partners of Prestige Cars & Couriers, which was established in 1982 and remains a thriving business today. With a sharp eye for numbers, and as a diligent book-keeper, Ray was responsible for the finances at the business and was also a keen investor, following the stock markets and investing wisely throughout his life.
In 2007 Ray was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He died in October 2009. After his difficult and unhappy childhood, his legacy is to support children and young people in Hammersmith and Fulham. The Bender family has, for instance, been a long-term funder of Ray’s Playhouse – a daily stay and play centre for under-fives based in Sands End which has supported hundreds of children giving them the best possible start in life.
In addition to sponsoring our Hall, The Bender Family Trust also provide support to the Special Educational Needs provision and High Achieving Pupil scheme at FBS. This ensures that boys, like Ray, are able to gain access to a wide range of services all supported by specialist staff allowing them to reach their full potential.
The individual boys concerned, FBS and our wider community will be benefiting from this generosity for years to come. My hope is that other individuals, charities, business and enterprises would similarly like to make their mark as Founder Funders.
You can find ways of getting involved in the link below. All donors will be publicly recognised. While the Bender Family Trust have been incredibly generous, we don’t anticipate all donations will be of this scale: if you can’t think of anyone who could help sponsor a class-room or a kitchen, you may be able to help us ‘Brick by Brick’ with contributions from as little as £100.
Click HERE for our digital magazine to see all of the ways in which you support FBS both financial and non financial.
Click HERE to support our Brick by Brick campaign and make a donation.
I look forward to welcoming you all to our new home.
Chairman, The Fulham Boys School.