Peter Harrison KGCN CBE, Founder and Chairman of the Peter Harrison Foundation and The Peter Harrison Heritage Foundation

The Peter Harrison Foundation is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in November. Founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist, Peter Harrison KGCN CBE, the Peter Harrison Foundation and the Peter Harrison Heritage Foundation,  a second grant giving charity set up in 2012, have collectively made 1,337 charitable grant totalling £51.2 million. Of this total, the Peter Harrison Foundation has bestowed over £2 million to 56 sailing charities and projects. 

A great sailing enthusiast and a yachtmaster, Peter Harrison sponsored and led a British challenge for the America’s Cup in 2000 – 2003, the first for 14 years and he is still a fiercely competitive sailor on his 115-foot yacht Sojana.  It therefore comes as no surprise that the Peter Harrison Foundation granted £50,000 towards the cost of refurbishing the Cowes Youth Centre to provide additional classroom and sporting facilities for the United Kingdom Sailing Academy.

In the same month, an additional £25,200 was donated to the Wetwheels Foundation. Wetwheels offers water-based activity experiences for people with a disability on board specially modified, fully accessible powerboats. The aim of the charity is to build the confidence of the participants by providing the opportunity to access the sea in a fun, safe, stimulating and rewarding way.

Wetwheels was conceived and founded by disability sport ambassador, Geoff Holt MBE.  An ex-professional yachtsman with many ocean crossings under his belt, Geoff Holt was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984.  In 2007 he became the first person with a disability to sail single-handed around Great Britain and in 2009 he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted.

Geoff Holt MBE said, “In the past year, Wetwheels boats have taken more than 2,500 people onto the water, many for the first time.  Of all the projects I have been involved with, Wetwheels gives me the greatest pleasure as I have witnessed thousands of people with a disability of all ages enjoy being on the water. Wetwheels remedies the lack of opportunity for people with a disability to experience the exhilaration of powerboating first-hand. Judging from the smiles, I think we’ve found a winning formula!

“We are immensely grateful for the extraordinary generosity shown by the Peter Harrison Foundation as without the support of such donors, Wetwheels and the sheer joy it provides to many disabled participants, would be impossible.”

The Peter Harrison Foundation is committed to three broad areas of need.  These are, opportunities for self-development and fulfilment though sport, particularly sport for disadvantaged and people with a disability (donated to date £21,692,088), care of children and young people with special needs (donated £7,949,941) and education with a particular interest in supporting Harrison Scholarships and capital development at Reigate Grammar School (donated 10,092,592).

Ocean Youth Trust South

To mark the 20th anniversary, Peter Harrison and his fellow trustees will be hosting a commemorative event at the Old Reigatians Rugby Football Club in Reigate, Surrey on 21 November  2019.  Peter Harrison is a former rugby player and he played for Old Reigatians until he was in his fifties.  Their new clubhouse was jointly funded by the Peter Harrison Foundation and the National Sports Fund with Sport England.

Chairman of the Foundation, Peter Harrison KGCN CBE, has a passion for helping others.  He said, “My family and I are proud to be celebrating 20 years of grant giving to UK charities and to honour the enduring legacy of the Foundation.  In 1999, after I had sold my business, my family and I endowed the Peter Harrison Foundation with an initial sum of £30 million, to which the Harrison family contributed a further £15 million in 2010.  It gives me enormous pleasure to have put some of that family wealth to work for the good of others.

“Along with the other trustees, my daughter Julia Harrison Lee, my son Nicholas Harrison and my son-in-law Peter Lee, our current policy is to see this capital maintain its value while making charitable grants of over £2 million every year out of the income generated from investments.”

As a keen sailor and former sportsman, Peter Harrison believes that sport provides important steppingstones to self-development and self-reliance.  This is one reason why the Foundation has done so much over the past 20 years to foster sporting achievement and participation by people with disabilities and disadvantaged young people.

The Director of the Peter Harrison Foundation, Andrew Ross OBE, said, “The Foundation places particular emphasis on opportunities through sport.  We have invested in sports science at Loughborough University’s Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, and elite performance through the Paralympic Association, as well as made grants to improve facilities in local clubs and schools at a ‘grass roots’ level.

“We also see sport and exercise as a way of unlocking the human potential in young people growing up in relatively disadvantaged communities where opportunities in life can seem limited we want to help give them the confidence and self-belief to take on wider challenges in later life.”

There are many outstanding charities and projects that have benefitted and have been helped by the generosity of the Peter Harrison Foundation’s philanthropic initiatives.

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