The origins of Westhill go back to the beginning of the 20th Century, when in 1907 George Cadbury and American George Hamilton Archibald founded the Westhill College. With a strong Free Church/ Non-Conformist background, the aim was to train Sunday School leaders to spread Christian education to ordinary people through the Sunday School movement with a mainly female student body. The College developed through to the 1940s with the addition of male students with courses in youth work.
The second half of the 20th Century saw a massive increase in higher education and Westhill became a grant-aided college with B.Ed. courses, with religious education at its core. As the City of Birmingham became a truly multicultural and multi-faith City this was reflected in the development of Westhill College with courses on Islam which attracted young Muslim women from the City.
During the 1990s the pioneering work of the early part of the century was represented by a wide range of degree courses, sometimes part-time, attended by mature women and men and often related to work in the community.
At the end of the 20th century Westhill College was formally integrated into the University of Birmingham and Westhill Endowment Trust was set up as a totally independent grant giving body.
A detailed history of the College is set out in "The Lumber Merchant and the Chocolate King" was written by Dr. Jack Priestley, a past Principal of Westhill College and is shown on this website with the permission of the Editors, the Revd. Professor Stephen Orchard and Professor J.H.Y. Briggs, of The Sunday Movement: Studies in the Growth and Decline of Sunday Schools (Studies in Christian History and Thought; Milton Keynes; ISBN-13: 978-1-84227-363-0 ISBN-10: 1-84227-363-9). Click here to read "The Lumber Merchant and the Chocolate King".
Building on our long history, Westhill’s vision in the 21st century is to see communities thriving and individual lives fulfilled and we believe that, by working together in a wide Christian context, we can make things happen.
Our Mission, Objectives and Values: how we do what we do
Westhill’s mission is to provide financial investment and other resources to support religious education projects and faith-motivated activities that enable different people to build bridges with each other and so transform their lives and the life of their communities. The values that underpin our work and the projects that we support are inclusivity, creativity and sustainability.
The financial investment is provided in the form of grants and the other resources are through our Grants in kind.
We offer the projects that we support the opportunity to promote their activities on our webpage Projects That Spark and we also will suggest Other Funders which may be appropriate.
Our People – our Trustees and our Staff
Our Trustees meet formally as a Board three times every year and on many other occasions throughout the year at our three Sub-Committees: Grants & Projects, Governance and Financial Strategy Group. Our Trustees are either nominated by particular denominational bodies or are co-opted for their expertise in specific area. Each of our Trustees is appointed for a fixed term and for 2015/16 they are:
- Sarah Evans OBE - Chairman, a former headteacher in Essex and Birmingham, nominated by The Quakers;
- Martin Woodward - Vice Chair, a consultant lawyer, specialising in faith charities and educational bodies, co-opted;
- Stuart Aldridge - an accountant by background, nominated by The Methodist Church;
- Reverend Sior Coleman - teacher, BBC broadcaster, nominated by The Baptist Union;
- Julie Grove MBE - Chair of The Free Church Education Committee, nominated by The United Reformed Church;
- Lorna Hewitt – retired administrator financial services sector, nominated by The Methodist Church;
- Hazel Rendle - former teacher and educational advisor, nominated by The Baptist Union;
- Simon Rowntree - retired university administrator, nominated by The United Reformed Church;
- David Slade – chartered accountant, co-opted;
- Peter Ullathorne – chartered accountant, co-opted;
- Philip White – chartered surveyor, co-opted.
Westhill employs two staff, both on a part-time basis: Richard Dickson, Clerk to Trustees, and Diane Webb, Trust Office Manager.
Annual Report and Accounts
A copy of Westhill most recent annual report and audited accounts can be obtained either by asking us for a copy or from The Charity Commission.
Other organisations with which Westhill works
Westhill is pleased to work with several partners in support of excellence in religious education and faith-motivated activities. These include:
The Religious Education Council of England & Wales - religiouseducationcouncil.org.uk
The National Association of Standing Advisory Councils on Religious Education - www.nasacre.org.uk
The Association of Church College Trusts - www.cstg.org.uk/partners/acct
The Christian Funders Forum - www.cinnamonnetwork.co.uk/the-christian-funders-forum