Charles S French Charitable Trust

History of the Trust

The Loughton based Charitable Trust was established in September 1959 by Charles French, Chairman of the former Buckhurst Hill civil engineering and construction company W&C French. The original settlement included £500 and interests in farming land in Buckhurst Hill and Loughton.

In the early years under the leadership of its first Chairman Sir Arthur Noble (former Managing director of W&C French) the Trust's assets grew, partly through bequests from the French family, and also from the construction of the M11 motorway through land owned by the Trust. In more recent times Robert Thomas (past Chairman), a well known and respected resident of Loughton, continued the development and growth of the Trust until his death in 2007. During this time the Trust acquired commercial premises in Loughton, a small part of which provides our office base.
The Trust's income is mainly derived from its assets, which currently comprise investments of around c£9million, together with rental from the farm land and the commercial premises. Over the past seven years the Trust has distributed over £1.2million to a wide spectrum of local charitable organisations, including those concerned with the community, education, medical (including hospices and respite care), youth activities (including support for the establishment of the Loughton Youth Project), children in need, the elderly and the disabled & disadvantaged.


Charles French set up the Trust with a small number of Trustees and over the years this approach has been maintained.

The current Trustees are:

William Noble (Trustee since 1978 and Chairman)

Will Noble was raised in Loughton and Chigwell and now lives in South Buckinghamshire. His father, the late Sir Arthur Noble, was the original Chairman of the Charles French Charitable Trust and Managing Director of W & C French Ltd. Will qualified in Hospital Management and trained at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. His career included 15 years in the NHS, 22 years in the independent hospital sector. He retired from active involvement in healthcare in 2010.

Martin Scarth

Martin Scarth CEng MICE MCIOB worked for 40 years in the construction industry. He was trained by W & C French, which then became part of Kier Group, and he rose to Chairman of Kier Regional prior to his retirement in 2003. Martin has a keen interest in youth and is a Trustee of the Construction Industry Trust for Youth (CYT), past Chairman and Governor of St. Aubyn's School, has set up a local Loughton Youth organisation (LYP) and is a Court member of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London. He has been a Trustee for over ten years.

Joanna Thomas

Joanna Thomas MB BS LRCP MRCS is a great niece of Charles French. She has recently retired from medicine after working for the last 33 years as a GP in Loughton as Dr Jo Ide. She is a Past Master of The Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London; a Verderer of Epping Forest; President of Epping Forest Alzheimer’s Society; Chairman of Chigwell Riding Trust for Special Needs; and Chairman of St John’s, Buckhurst Hill, Church Grounds Fund. She became a Trustee in 2008.

Michael Foster

Michael Foster AA Dipl MA RIBA is a great nephew of Charles French. He is an Architect and a former senior partner of The Tooley & Foster Partnership, based in Buckhurst Hill, Essex. During his professional career he has been President of The Architectural Association, Secretary of The Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture and Chairman of the Friends of the Geffrye Museum. He became a Trustee in 2008 and is a Governor of St. Aubyn's School.

Chris Noble

Chris Noble is a grandson of Arthur Noble, one of the original trustees of the Trust . Chris is a chartered Financial Planner with Saunderson House, a Wealth Management firm in the City which serves private individuals, companies, trusts and charities in all areas of investment management and financial planning. Chris initially acted as an independent adviser to the trust in relation to investment management and became a Trustee in 2015. Chris lives in North East London.

Jamie Foster Jamie Foster is a great-great nephew of Charles French. He is a Solicitor and Partner of Hempsons, a law firm for the health and social care, life sciences, charity and social enterprise sectors. He has been a Governor of Shacklewell Primary School in East London and has been a Trustee since 2015. Jamie lives in North London.

Antonia McLeod

Educated at Forest School, East London and Framlingham College, Suffolk followed by a Bachelors of Science Degree in Geography. Antonia is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Insurers and worked for 10 years as a Multinational Global Liability Underwriter in the City of London..

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Charles S French Charitable Trust - Charity number: 206476