Blackburn Vail Trust

Members who attend the Annual lunch will be aware of the Blackburn Vail Trust (BVT) because James Hazelden (Chair of Trustees) makes a brief report on its activities and arranges a raffle, the proceeds of which go to the Trust. It is, in fact, a fairly recent creation, having been established in 1994 - the year after the Eastbourne Sixth Form College was subsumed into what is now the East Sussex College. The latter paid £5000 per year to the BVT from 1994 but these donations ceased in 2014.

The BVT was effectively a merger of the Blackburn Memorial Trust (which provided support to pupils / former pupils of EGS) and what had originally been the War Memorial Scholarship Fund founded to support pupils of Eastbourne Municipal School for Girls shortly before its name changed in 1929 to Eastbourne High School. Much of the history of earlier funds available to pupils of the Grammar and High Schools respectively is now lost; it is known that both had a number of smaller funds while the War Memorial Scholarship Fund assisted study at Oxford, Cambridge and London Universities for High School pupils whose parents were of modest means. It seems likely that donations from alumni might have fed the various funds but no records have been located to confirm this.

Another High School fund was named for (Olive) Irene Vail, a pupil of the Municipal Girls School in the early 1900s and subsequently a long-serving teacher (of languages?) at the High School; this Fund is believed to have been established when the Eldon Road building was opened shortly before World War II and may have been particularly to finance the purchase of books. Irene Vail was a graduate of Bedford College, London University, as was Caroline Adams, first Headmistress of the Municipal Girls School / High School who held that post from 1904-33. The Vail family had a licensed trade background in London and her father was licensee of the New Inn in Eastbourne for several years; her two brothers attended the Municipal Boys School. Irene Vail had a long association with the Municipal Girls School / High School and is understood to have been a generous benefactor. Hence it would seem that her name was appropriate from the High School side to be paired with that of C P Blackburn when the BVT was established in 1994.

 The BVT has four Trustees, two staff members from East Sussex College who serve ex officio and two nominated by EOGA; the latter are currently James Hazelden (Chair and a long-serving Trustee) and David Jeffery, who was appointed in 2021 to fill the vacancy which arose when the Eastbourne High School Association was wound up and could thus no longer provide a Trustee.

In normal times the Trustees meet three times each year to consider applications for discretionary financial awards from current of former students (under age 25) of East Sussex College as the successor institution to the Grammar and High Schools. Typical applications, which must be supported by a College tutor, might be for the purchase of tools, cameras, computer equipment, overalls or uniforms; mandatory or voluntary study trips in the UK or abroad have also been supported in recent years. In assessing applications, the Trustee panel looks for evidence of self-help, such as part-time work, and also considers family circumstances. Awards would usually be in the range £30 - £150 but these limits are not set in stone. The pot to finance awards comes from income earned by the BVT's managed capital fund plus raffle receipts from EOGA events.