For Julian Agnew, previously Chairman of the Evelyn Trust and now its President, the Evelyn Trust is a family affair. He is the great grandson of Morland Agnew, founder of the Evelyn Nursing Home, which subsequently became the Evelyn Hospital. The funds from the sale of the hospital were invested in the Evelyn Trust in 2003. His active life with the trust began in 1972 when he joined its executive committee to support his father. Julian is proud that, since 2010, his daughter Amy has been his alternate trustee and brings a wealth of experience of NGOs and third sector bodies to the Trust.
Julian is passionate about the work of the Evelyn Trust - because of the high profile medical research projects it supports, the difference it makes to individuals’ lives, but also because his involvement makes a unique contribution to his own life.
“I’m an art dealer and I have been a professional in that world for five decades. My time spent with the Evelyn Trust at meetings, or talking to project teams, is so rewarding because it is just so different. I talk to incredibly bright, engaging and articulate clinicians, who are world class in what they deliver. But then I also get involved with small voluntary groups working extremely hard locally to turn around very difficult situations for marginalised families and individuals. It’s fascinating to see so many perspectives on life,” explains Julian.
Julian studied history of art at Trinity College, Cambridge and then joined the family business Thos. Agnew & Sons, the legendary fine art dealers, rising to become the firm’s Chairman in 1991. His experience in the commercial world is now put to good use at the Trust.
“Now I’m the President and it’s an honorary position, so I can rely on others to do most of the hard work! I’m there to provide a strategic perspective, consider the bigger picture and our future direction. The Evelyn Trust is well-known for its support of ground-breaking research, but I’m keen that we continue to build a broader role in the Cambridge area, funding smaller charities which help the least well off in our society. In this region that often means vulnerable people suffering from rural isolation, including the elderly and immigrants. I’d like us to plug the gaps by helping those who can’t access existing services, or find little help available – this is particularly an issue in the field of mental health. We want also to provide ‘seed funding’ for new projects that have been developed in partnership by groups coming together with a great idea, but which may be new and unproven so perhaps is overlooked by other grant-awarding bodies.”
Julian’s experience is in demand in the charitable sector – he is a Trustee and previous Chairman of the Friends of the Courtauld Institute of Art and is also a Trustee of the Geoffrey and Julian Agnew Trust, which works to support the arts and artistic institutions, including the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the National Gallery.
When Julian is not to be found in an art gallery or museum, he may well be enjoying an evening at the opera, or a brisk and breezy walk along the North Norfolk coast, where he spends many of his weekends.