A Morning with RGS's Georgie Grant Haworth
Earlier this month, we interviewed County Club member Georgie Grant Haworth, who is currently the Development Director at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford.
Georgie has worked as a professional fundraiser for over 15 years. Following a formative GAP year, teaching in a subsistence farming area of Kenya, Georgie graduated from the University of Bristol in 1999 with a degree in Theology & Politics. She has raised funds for charities including The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, Farm Africa, St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and the drama school, LAMDA.
So how does this background in charity come into her role at the RGS?
Many people are unaware that, in any given year, the Royal Grammar School supports approximately 65 bright local boys with assisted or bursary places. A growing proportion of these places is funded by the philanthropy of the RGS community. Financial assistance varies according to need, but approximately one third of the boys on assisted places receive 100% fee support. This proportion is unusually high in comparison to independent schools across the country. “That high-level, 100% support is transformational;” says Georgie, “it changes lives. That’s what really motivates me in my job, trying to make a difference”.
The RGS has a strong record in this regard. Set up as a ‘free school’ in 1509, the School has long offered assisted or bursary places. Between 1945 and 1977, the RGS was part of the state-maintained system, offering all of its places for free. In the long term, it is the vision of Headmaster, Dr Jon Cox, that the RGS will once again achieve full merit-based open access, so that every boy who is offered a place is able to take it up. The philanthropic support of the RGS community will be vital to this vision, helping to ensure that fees can remain at the most reasonable level possible whilst widening access.
Working to widen access is only one facet of her job, however. Georgie also runs the alumni relations activity for the School, working with her team to build up the RGS community for the benefit of the School, its pupils and the local community. “It is a really interesting challenge”, says Georgie, “working out what this particular group of people want, what motivates them and, in particular, what identity, what values, what mission they share in common. The RGS community has this incredible wealth of skills, knowledge and experience and we are just at the start of our journey working out how to leverage that strategically for the maximum benefit of our School and our wider communities. It’s very exciting to see where it will go.” It is intended that future activity will complement the existing school programme of careers seminars, talks and conventions which are open to local pupils as well as RGS students.
Georgie joined the RGS three years ago and works in the Old Building of the Royal Grammar School on the High Street. Working in a Tudor building has its “pros and cons”, says Georgie. “It can get pretty chilly in winter, but it is also an immense privilege. The Old Building is an essential part of who we are as a school, reminding us of our history and rooting us in the heart of the town.” The School is much bigger than it looks from the street, accommodating over 900 boys. The fact that they blend so seamlessly into town life is, she believes, an illustration of the values taught to the boys – “tolerance, an awareness of and respect for others, a sense of their place in wider society”.
Finding appropriate meeting spaces can be a challenge in a busy school and Georgie schedules most of her local meetings with supporters and old boys of the School at the County Club. “I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s a perfect place to meet – personal, discreet, elegant and perfectly located. It actually helps to bring people into a space at the heart of the Guildford community, reflecting the myriad ways in which the School does the same. It’s a secret jewel right on the High Street”.
We at The County Club couldn’t be more pleased to be of use to Georgie, and her work. If you’d like to find out more about the RGS or their work opening up access, you can contact Georgie on email@example.com or see the RGS website www.rgsg.co.uk or Twitter feed @RGSGuildford.