top of page


Easter 2021

Dear Friend of the Trust,

Our Chairman, Stephen Sparrow, has asked me to provide you with an update on the activities of the Trust. As many of you will know, Stephen has recently taken on the joyous responsibility of a cattle farm in Cornwall, a change which has been long anticipated and now by all accounts much enjoyed, but which is currently absorbing most of his time and energy. I am particularly pleased to have the pen for this update, as it gives me the opportunity to report on some notable milestones reached in our Jubilee fundraising campaign in the past year, which are the direct result of seeds planted by Stephen, but more of that later. Let me first tell you about the HBST Scholars for 2021.


As trustees, we are delighted to report that fifteen HBST Scholars are currently in place across our four partner schools in the city of Makhanda (formerly known as Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Fourteen of the scholars are continuing their studies from previous year appointments, and the additional scholar (Douglas) appointed for 2021 is in his first year (Year 8) at St Andrew’s College. Going into our 25th Jubilee year with a rugby XV number of HBST Scholars seems entirely appropriate, given the strong sporting associations that HBST has benefited from, none more so than with the generosity of past and present Lions’ rugby players.


It’s of course also a sign of the wonderful support that our Friends have provided in allowing the charity to extend its award of scholarships from a single HBST Scholar in 1998 to this year’s fifteen. In marking our 25th Jubilee year with 15 HBST Scholars, it does lead to a question of what aspirations we have for continuing to expand the “squad” of scholars in future years. At this point, the trustees answer is not by very much, as we believe the target should be to deepen our financial commitment to individual scholars as opposed to significantly expanding the annual number of scholarship awards. In the view of the trustees, this is in keeping with the core ambition of HBST to provide otherwise unattainable educational opportunities for talented children, and in so doing contribute to the future generations of African leadership. We can only continue to provide such support to the next generation of talented scholars through your ongoing donations, for which we remain heavily reliant and extremely grateful. Ours is a niche charity but one with huge ambitions for our scholars and we hope that you all also take satisfaction in the zero administrative leakage from funds raised for the trust, i.e.100p in every £ donated accrues directly to the benefit of scholars.  

It has been humbling over these past twenty-five years, to support the wonderful efforts of our four partner schools, as they have worked so hard to find the exceptional cases which deserve and need the support of donors such as HBST. The professional care of the schools is the hallmark of such initiatives, which is demonstrated in the very limited number of cases where HBST Scholars have failed to complete their schooling under scholarship. The extracts below of a letter from the St Andrew’s Headmaster, motivating for HBST’s participation in a donor syndicate to support Douglas’ entrance to the school, highlights this very powerfully:        

“I first met Douglas when I attended a function at The Good Shepherd School where he gave a speech in his capacity as Head Boy. I knew immediately that here was an exceptional boy - humble, intelligent, articulate, with oodles of potential.

I arranged for Douglas to visit St Andrew’s with a view to seeing whether there was perhaps some way that we could work towards finding a way for him to join us. The Headmaster brought him along for tea, and we spoke at length about his life, his ambitions, and St Andrew’s College. Douglas was born to a worker on a farm in Salem and following the death of his father, Douglas spent some time with relatives in Pretoria, and has returned to Salem, from where he travels each day to get to the Good Shepherd. Douglas has visited College twice since, and we have discussed in detail the opportunities and challenges that we will face on this journey ahead.

Douglas’ marks are outstanding, ranging from the lowest (73, his only mark under 80) to 92. He is well spoken, gentle, but of strong character. He understands fully that a big challenge lies ahead for us should he come to College, and that it will take some time to adjust from being a “big fish” at Good Shepherd to the rigour and demands of College. I have absolutely no doubt that he has the potential to excel and that we have the capacity to mentor him through that challenge.”

I can confirm that through HBST’s modest support alongside other donors, Douglas joined St Andrew’s College in January. As trustees we believe HBST exists exactly for the likes of Douglas, and through your continued generosity we hope to do ever more in supporting such deserving and talented children. This brings me to providing an update on the HBST Jubilee fundraising programme, which many of you have supported so generously. It’s showing great results, as we have already exceeded our original Jubilee target to raise an additional £250,000 towards the HBST investment endowment funds. You will not be surprised from our Chairman’s modus operandi, that the original target has long since been forgotten, as we go all out to future proof the charity’s continued capacity for providing scholarships to talented children such as Douglas. In this respect I did want to provide some detail on Stephen’s personal contribution to fundraising, which I alluded to at the start of the letter, and which in the past year has delivered nearly £100,000 in donations to the trust (substantially through the double matching scheme of his former employer the Edrington Group). We are hugely appreciative to both Stephen and Edrington!

As a son of Makhanda, it has been a great privilege to be associated with this endeavour these past twenty-five years. This small but significant educational centre in South Africa played host to the first Lions rugby team to tour the country in 1891, with the tourists captained by the Scottish international Bill Maclagan beating a local Grahamstown side 9-0. As we all look forward (in nervous anticipation) to the Lions series scheduled to be played against South Africa this year, it’s with great pride and appreciation that we acknowledge the impact of past Lions’ tourists on the trust; and of course particularly that of our “Godfather”, Finlay Calder, one of seven Scotsman who have followed in the footsteps of Bill Maclagan as captains of the Lions.

Stephen has asked me to let Friends know that after lots of cajoling, Finlay Calder has finally allowed his biography to be written by the brilliant Peter Burns, and " A Brother's tale" will be published and out in hardback in October. It will include telling the story of how Finlay's and Stephen's lasting friendship was formed through a letter written by Stephen to Finlay in December 1996 which piqued Finlay's interest: "would the 89 Lions reform under Finlay's captainship to play a match in Oxford to help launch a small charity to help talented but poor students in South Africa". As part of the jubilee campaign 15 beautiful bronze lions have been sculptured by world renowned artist Bruce Little and signed by 5 former Lions captains, to be sold with all proceeds going to the Trust as part of the silver jubilee campaign. A separate information leaflet is attached on the bronze lions, should any Friends want to discuss reserving one at the latest successful auction bid price, before we launch a further auction of these magnificent bronzes.

There will be future fundraising and Friends get togethers to look forward to when the pandemic restrictions allow. We hope to possibly have a dinner at Christ Church college in Oxford (trustee Ollie Cook's old college) when Ollie returns from representing team GB in rowing at the Tokyo Olympics and then a finale Jubilee dinner back in the long room at Lord's in 2022. Before then please save the date on 7th July 2021 for a Friends gathering in a London pub. The plan is to (hopefully) enjoy our newly won social freedom by meeting in a West London pub, to watch the Lions play a mid-week fixture in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, against a SA Invitation XV.

Yours faithfully,


Andrew La Trobe



bottom of page