A lot happened in the Year 2000.
Start of a new millennium. The very first Big Brother. Prince William passed his A-levels. And Harry Potter’s fourth adventure was published.
It was also the year that Villiers Park Educational Trust became widely recognised as a social mobility frontrunner by supporting high ability students from less advantaged backgrounds.
So, where did it all begin?
A hundred years ago!
Our roots lie in East London, 1909, when a group of Old Etonians started a sports and social club called the Eton Manor Boys’ Club. It gave ordinary boys living on the fringes of London’s notorious and deprived East End the chance to enjoy sports and games in a safe, spacious environment. From boxing and billiards to debating and drawing, the opportunities were varied and exciting.
The Manor Charitable Trust was set up in 1924 to help fund the club’s work. The men behind that: Arthur Villiers, Gerald Wellesley, Alfred Wagg and Sir Edward Cadogan.
From this, our educational work started to evolve.
In 1951, Sir Edward Cadogan began running educational courses for club members from his Oxfordshire home. When he died in 1962, Arthur Villiers picked up the helm, paying tribute to his friend by expanding the number of courses available. An educational centre was set up in Middleton Stoney in Oxfordshire, with the first course held in December 1965. When the Boys’ Club closed in 1967, these subject-based courses were offered, for free, to students from state and independent schools all over the country.
Following Arthur Villiers death in 1969, the education programme expanded considerably, until 20 years later when the trustees decided to build a second study centre at Foxton, near Cambridge.
In the late 1990s the centre at Middleton Stoney was closed and the Foxton one expanded. Regional networks were established linking schools, colleges, and universities in seven locations. At the turn of the new Millennium the charity changed its name to Villiers Park Educational Trust, recognising the work of Arthur Villiers in developing the trust and its focus on education.
Today we are a powerful voice in the ongoing and vital campaign to improve social mobility. We now work with 2000 young people every year. The impact of what we do evident not just in their academic achievements, but also their ability to face whatever life throws at them with confidence.