Posts By :


Thank you to all Friends

150 150 Sally

October 2019

Dear Friends

The Friends of Higham Special General Meeting was held on the 15th September 2019.
It was convened for members of the Friends to vote on the proposal made to the Friends by Higham Hall College Ltd, for the Dissolution of Friends of Higham as a Registered Charity.

I wrote a letter to all members, explaining the detail of the proposal, which was sent to you on the 4th August 2019, along with an Agenda and Invitation to attend the meeting.

Members attending the Special General Meeting voted unanimously in favour of the proposal that Friends of Higham cease to be a Registered Charity.

The future Friends of Higham Association is to be managed and administered by Higham Hall College Ltd. George Cooke, Principal, welcomes you as an essential member of Higham Hall College. George will send a letter to invite you to the new Friends Association with the fresh payment details you will need for Annual Subscriptions. He appreciates your patience in the meantime. You may check progress on the Higham website:

Thank you all for the huge support you have given to Higham over the past 26 years, it has been a Job Well Done. The Charity Commission send the Friends its Congratulations for having achieved the purpose we were set up for.

Yours sincerely

Ann Pilkington
Acting Chairman of the dissolved Friends of Higham

SGM Invitation

150 150 Sally
All members are invited to attend the Friends of Higham Special General Meeting at 2pm on Sunday the 15th of September 2019 at Higham Hall.
This meeting is taking place to allow you to vote on the proposal from Higham Hall College Ltd to the Friends of Higham.  Higham’s Principal, George Cooke and the Board of Trustees propose that Friends of Higham ceases to be a separate registered charity and is retained as an integral association, to be managed and administered by Higham Hall College Ltd.  Friends’ membership subscriptions/donations would continue and be used solely to support bursaries.
Thank you

June Newsletter 2019

150 150 Sally

Dear Friends

It is my pleasure to greet you all. This Newsletter tells of both the Friends and Higham’s activities and achievements. Together is good.

We held the Annual General Meeting of the Friends on the 24th of March at Higham. Members were welcomed at a reception and it was good to see old and new Friends. Twenty‐eight members attended the formal meeting. Most stayed to enjoy lunch and, afterwards, joined in the informal discussion, asking questions, suggesting ideas and actions for Friends committee to consider.

The AGM was delighted to hear from George Cooke, Principal, that Higham is now entirely self sufficient. An impressive achievement.

Rob Ives, Chairman since AGM 2016, stood down. The member nominated for election to the Chair decided, at short notice, not to stand. No other member of the committee was willing to be nominated for election as Chairman. As I had been Chairman from 2012 to 2016, I agreed to act as Chairman until a Chairman for the Friends could be found.

The time and commitment given by the committee, all volunteers, is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes

Ann Pilkington
Acting Chairman – Friends of Higham



27th July: Bard in Garden, 3pm
Much Ado About Nothing performed by The Festival Players. Open from 1.30pm for picnics.
Tickets: £13.50, school children £10

3rd Aug: Jazz Concert, 8pm
Higham Jazz Concert with special guests Alan Barnes, Martin Shaw and David Black.
Tickets: £7

10th – 16th Aug: Artist’s Summer School
Artist’s Summer School with Ceri Allen, Michael Stewart, Alex Jakob-Whitworth, Brian Smith and Lionel Playford

23rd – 26th Aug: You The Jury
Having discussed the evidence, You The Jury lay down your verdict. Four, real-life, murder cases have been chosen by Diane Janes for the insights they give us into our social history and judicial system


presented by Rob Ives at the AGM

Friends of Higham has been a registered charity since 1993. We support Higham Hall College Educational Trust. We have an approved constitution, submit an annual report to the Charity Commission, show public benefit and inclusion by providing bursaries and a scholarship, are non-profit making and can claim Gift Aid on members annual donations and other donations where donors have signed a Gift Aid Declaration.

The Friends Committee has eight members, each nominated and elected at the AGM to serve for one year. The committee meets four times a year at Higham. The Chair or Deputy Chair of the Friends attends the Higham Trustees meetings and provides the link between the two.

Communication with members happens via this annual Newsletter, four News Updates, the AGM invite and Members can choose to receive their information by email by contacting the Secretary.

Bursaries in 2018
In 2018 the Friends reserved £2000 for bursaries. £1869.92 was awarded by Higham enabling nine people to attend a variety of courses.

Friends bursaries are a part of Higham’s Assisted Places Scheme which allows people on a low income and receiving state benefits, or aged between 18 and 25, to get up to 20% off the educational costs of a course. A bursary covers up to 70% of the remainder of the course costs.

There is usually a small amount of unused money in the bursary fund at the end of the financial year, which should be returned to the Friends by Higham. Rob proposed that unused bursary money be transferred to Higham’s Assisted Places Scheme, instead of being returned. This simplified system has been agreed by the Friends committee and welcomed by Higham.

Personal Data Protection
The General Data Protection Regulations became UK law in May 2018 for all organisations, great and small, which hold people’s personal data. The Friends successfully implemented a personal data protection system which satisfies all the requirements.

The Friends of Higham Scholarship
The Friends Scholarship clearly sets the Friends in support of education at Higham. The scholarship not only benefits the winning student, it promotes the excellence of Higham and the charitable support of the Friends. It clearly demonstrates public benefit and inclusion by providing opportunities for people that they would not otherwise have.

The 2018 winner was textile artist, Kay Leech, who was awarded several Higham courses. The project concluded with Kay’s exhibition of geology-themed textiles in November 2018.

This first scholarship has been very successful and it has been agreed that Higham will take on the administration of future scholarships. The Friends will reserve £3000 for this, which will be donated to Higham every three years.


Membership in 2018
Membership peaked at 357 people in 2018. 27 new members joined the Friends, keeping the numbers fairly consistent.
Membership Secretary, Jean Geater, recorded the generous donations made by several people, in addition to their annual donations, which came to £402.
Thank you to everyone who donated in 2018.


Receipts and Payments in 2018
£2130.61 ~ Balance from 2017.
£4326.86 ~ Receipts in 2018.
£3053.63 ~ Payments in 2018.
£3403.84 ~ BALANCE at end of Dec 2018.


Election of the Friends Committee
The Chairman, Rob Ives, and Ordinary Member, Ian Turnbull, stood down from the committee. Ann Pilkington was accepted as Acting Chair, while a new Chairman is sought.

The following members were elected at the AGM: DEPUTY CHAIR – Fran Flower, TREASURER – Ann Pilkington, SECRETARY – Sally Alexandre, MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY – Jean Geater, ORDINARY MEMBERS – Vron Spencer, John Slater, Beryl Pryde and Pam Grant.


presented by George Cooke at the AGM

Higham is entirely self-sufficient, the curriculum of courses brings new people in and keeps devotees happy. The social side of Higham, where links are formed via shared interests, is as important as learning.

George said Higham is assisted by its charitable status, which means it does not have to charge VAT on the educational part of the business. Surplus money Higham generates is put back into the building and George has recently installed a flexible wire picture hanging system. Currently on display is ‘The Big Picture’ by Keswick Society of Art.

George said Higham is helped enormously by it’s hard-working staff, tutors and students, many of whom go above and beyond. Higham also supports, and gets support from, lots of local organisations.

Three new members are set to join the Trustees following an advert put on the mailer slip that is posted with the brochure. 6500 Higham brochures go out twice a year. George offered use of this space to the Friends.

Lots of work has been going on to enhance the pond area
The pond area is undergoing a large scale renovation. A very generous private donation has almost entirely covered the cost of this major project.

The Friends of Alston have given £2000 towards a new carpet for the Dining Room. In return George has promised to do his utmost to accommodate the Alston Hall stained glass window.

George thanked the Friends for their support and said everyone should be proud to share their enthusiasm for the wonderful place that is Higham.



Since completing the 2018 Friends of Higham Scholarship, textile artist, Kay Leech, has been very busy making new works and teaching.

In June, Kay helped to organise Textravaganza at Rheged. Two days dedicated to textiles of all kinds with over 30 exhibitors.

Kay recently opened her studio to the public for the annual Art Trail as a member of Eden Valley Artistic Network.

You also have a chance to see Kay’s work on the 20th and 21st of July at Art in the Hills, Dufton Village Hall.



Friends who joined the discussion following the AGM brought up a range of points.

A small saving in administrative costs can be made if members sign up to receive their news from the Friends by email. If you would like to receive any, or all, of your information by email, please contact [email protected]

External funding and the membership donation were discussed. The Friends are not eligible to apply for external funding, as we are not the actual users of the money. The committee feel that it is better to attract more people to become Friends, rather than increase the annual donation from £10. We do not have a project that requires significant extra funds and our membership remains a possibility for many people.

The members were so enthusiastic about the scholarship, they were keen to offer more than one every three years. Those present agreed with the policy of open applications where anyone over 16 can apply. They thought that, with better timed publicity, the scholarship was bound to attract more young people to Higham.

The 2018 scholarship acted as a prototype for future awards. The 2021 scholarship will be administered by Higham and funded by the Friends.


FRIENDS OF HIGHAM – Its History and Success

Recently, Higham’s Principal, George Cooke, gave his report to the Friends AGM. We were delighted to hear that Higham is now entirely self-sufficient.

The accounts balance sheet of the last 7 years is impressive. Surplus income Higham generates is put back into the building, its furnishings and equipment. George thanked the Friends for their support and said everyone should be proud to share their enthusiasm for the wonderful place that is Higham. We are.

Many Friends of Higham will remember Alasdair Galbraith, Principal from 1991 to 2001 who said that looking back he wonders why he took on the job. The magic of Higham, its location, and the whole philosophy of residential adult education, were the big attraction, already Higham was establishing a reputation for excellence. It’s excellence and magic influenced a group of people to establish Friends of Higham.

Alasdair took a major part in the administration of the Friends, keeping accounts, holding the Friends income in Higham’s bank account, and taking part in committee meetings.

This amalgamation of Higham and the Friends in the early days served an excellent purpose. In 1993 the Friends were awarded the status of Registered Charity and set about developing a valuable caring support group to assist Higham. The Friends Constitution states ‘the Object of the Association is to advance the education of adult students at Higham Hall College, an Educational Trust, by providing facilities for education, not normally provided by the Board of Trustees’.

It is interesting that each Chair of the Friends together with their committee teams over the years since 1993, have had an aim which has been in support of the Principal’s aim at the time, which has determined the use of Friends donations effectively. It has been very satisfying to the Friends, over the years, to know they have supported and helped Higham by assisting and providing facilities for education. Looking back through minutes and accounts we can see the focus of it. Records show how the Friends chairmen and committee teams have helped and assisted Higham in its needs.

Friends committee teams have focussed on:

1993 to 2003, building the Friends of Higham Association, assisted in providing furniture and equipment for Higham. Many items are still with us, the library bookcases, stair lift, oak dining tables and chairs, first studio benches, and more.

2004 to 2008 contributed to the purchase of a Grand Piano and surveyor and solicitor costs of Higham’s Independence in 2007.

After independence the focus changed to sponsoring instead of purchasing items.

2008 to 2012 sponsored Music at Higham, British Sign Language Course, course assistants fees, and provided Bursaries.

2012 to 2016 sponsored writing and printing of ‘The Story of Higham’ book now on sale at Higham, and provided Bursaries.

2016 to 2019 sponsored the ‘Friends of Higham Scholarship’, and provided Bursaries.

Most of all, Friends of Higham have always been an excellent marketing team for Higham through their enthusiastic promotion of the place they love.


Ann Pilkington
Acting Chairman
Friends of Higham


Our next AGM is on Sunday the 5th of April 2020
See you at 12pm for drinks

July 2018 Newsletter

1024 611 Sally

Issue 45
July 2018


Dear Friends

Welcome to this year’s newsletter.  We held our AGM on the 25th of March this year and 23 members joined us.  We tried a shorter meeting format, followed by lunch and then an informal discussion.  Quite a few people stayed on after lunch to talk and share their views about various things going on at Higham, from amusing ways to sponsor a fire alarm to planning issues regarding the courtyard.

We introduced a Friends of Higham Scholarship in 2017. The Scholarship was awarded to Kay Leech, she has used her scholarship to attend several courses at Higham on a geological and artist theme, you can find out more in Sally’s interview in the Newsletter.

I asked Ann, the Friends Treasurer, to review the new General Data Protection Regulations 2018 in respect of Friends of Higham compliance, as all organisations must do.  Ann’s article on what it means for the Friends is in this Newsletter.

Click here to see the Friends new Data Protection Policy document.

In preparation for the new Data Protection Law and to comply with new requirements of the Charity Commission in respect of Registered Charity and Not-for-Profit status, we have updated the Friends Constitution, our governance document.  I am pleased to say that the Friends organisation complies perfectly with all three Standards.

It has been an interesting and exciting year for the Friends.  I’d especially like to thank the core team for all the hard work they have put in over the year to make it possible!

Best wishes
Rob Ives
Chairman – Friends of Higham




28th July at 3pm, Open Air Shakespeare
The Winter’s Tale performed by The Festival Players
Open from 1.30pm for picnics.  Tickets: £13.50, school children £10

4th Aug at 8pm
Informal Jazz Concert with Alan Barnes and the Higham Jazz Players
Tickets: £7

11th Nov at 2pm, Talk & Tea
Project Presentation by textile artist, Kay Leech, Winner of the 2018 Friends of Higham Scholarship

11th – 30th Nov from 10am to 5 pm, Textiles Exhibition
Connections – Kay Leech’s solo exhibition of mixed-media textiles about the geology of the Cumbria
Meet the artist: 17th/ 20th/ 29th Nov.  Free entry

presented by Rob Ives at the 2018 AGM

Friends of Higham has been a registered charity since 1993. We have an approved constitution, submit an annual report to the Charity Commission, support Higham Hall College Educational Trust, show public benefit and inclusion by providing bursaries and a scholarship, are non-profit making and can claim Gift Aid.

The Friends Committee has eight members who meet four times a year at Higham. All are nominated and elected at the AGM to serve for one year.

We communicate with members via this annual Newsletter, four News Updates, the AGM invite and Rob has updated the Friends website so it is now responsive across all devices. It also has a PayPal donation page for anyone who would like to donate online. The Friends leaflet has been refreshed and it’s new Gift Aid Declaration form meets HMRC’s approval.

Bursaries in 2017
We reserved £2000 for bursaries. Last year £1714 was actually awarded to nine people to attend a variety of Higham courses from Propagating Plants to Painting with your iPad. Friends bursaries are applied for through Higham’s Assisted Places Scheme.  People who are aged 18 to 25 OR are receiving certain state benefits are eligible to apply to Higham for an Assisted Place on a course and can be considered for a Bursary at the same time.

2018 Friends of Higham Scholarship
In 2017 the first Friends Scholarship was awarded to recognise a talented student and enable them to advance their education with courses at Higham.

The scholarship sets the Friends firmly in support of Higham as an Educational Trust. It promotes the excellence of Higham Hall College and the charitable support of the Friends. It meets the requirement the Charity Commission have of Registered Charities for ‘public benefit and inclusion’ by providing opportunities to people which they would not otherwise have.Open to anyone over 16, the award is a place on three or more Higham courses taken within 12 months and can include further elements. The winner is required to present their completed work to an audience at Higham.

The scholarship was promoted in the summer through flyers, letters (to tutors and schools) and the website.  Applicants were asked to describe themselves and their proposed project, to send previous work examples, and give two referees.

Five people were selected for interview at Higham by an Independent Selection Panel of four people, two Arts Society Chairs, an ex-Principal and a Trustee. The criteria for selection was strength of the project idea and relative experience. The Panel chose Kay Leech from Penrith as the 2018 winner. Kay proposed a series of artworks making connections between geology and art .

Kay was awarded a programme of nine courses, chosen in discussion with Higham’s Principal, George Cooke. Funds from the Friends covered the full cost of the award which was £1738.The focus of the Friends has changed over the years. We began by helping to equip the college, we played our part in supporting Higham’s bid for independence, promotion of Higham came next, and now we are helping to provide educational opportunities.


Election of the Friends Committee
The following members were elected to the committee at the AGM:
CHAIRMAN – Rob Ives, DEPUTY CHAIR – Fran Flower, SECRETARY – Sally Alexandre, TREASURER – Ann Pilkington, MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY – Jean Geater, ORDINARY MEMBERS – Vron Spencer, John Slater and Ian Turnbull.


Membership in 2017
presented by Jean Geater at the AGM
Membership peaked at 357 people and 26 of those people were new members.  Thanks to your generosity, income from membership, donations and gift aid was the highest ever received.

presented by George Cooke at the AGM

George said ten years of independence is proof of Higham’s success. This achievement comes from sticking to Higham’s core values where good tutors and courses come first. George said Higham is firmly independent, yet works well with groups such as The Festival Players and The Waterloo Society. Recently local theatre group Workington Playgoers used Higham as a film location.

George has shared what he’s learnt about making a success of independence with Knuston Hall College in Northamptonshire.

George emphasised the importance of the course brochure to promote Higham and invited everyone to take away some new business cards to help spread the word. He also said how important it is to attract new members to Higham’s two support bodies, the Trustees and the Friends.Higham is well prepared to meet the challenges of the future, from increasing pension contributions to replacing 200 fire alarms at a cost of £50,000.

The Friends Scholarship was praised. George said ideas from across the curriculum are influencing Kay’s work and her ideas are filtering back through the college, benefiting other students.

A plan is being developed by George and the Trustees to make the main building easier to access from the Studio, to create a more multi-functional space and improve the courtyard.

What General Data Protection Regulations 2018 (GDPR) means for Friends of Higham

I reviewed what the new Data Protection Regulations are, why they are being introduced, how Friends of Higham meet GDPR requirements and actions we must take to comply with the new law effective from 25th May 2018. It was an interesting task during which I received invaluable help from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

GDPR 2018 focus is strengthening the law to keep individuals personal data safe and secure by introducing new requirements to the Act of 1998. It applies to all organisations, great and small, has clear structure and explicit requirements that all must comply with. GDPR definition is ‘Personal Data relates to a living individual who can be identified from data of name, address, telephone number and email address’.

Friends of Higham has always operated ‘best practice’, adhered to its Constitution, complied with requirements of the Charity Commission, Not-for-Profit and HMRC, keptmembers data confidential, but not had documented policy and procedures which describe and evidence its system of personal data management.

To comply with Data Protection Regulations 2018 the Friends must have a documented system of Personal Data protection that reflects the new law. We must have: a Data Protection Policy stating how we meet the principles of compliance with GDPR 2018; a Privacy Notice stating what personal data we hold, where it comes from, whom we share it with, which must be visible on our public documents; documented procedures describing how members personal data is recorded, how kept, by whom. Members choosing to receive items by email instead of post must sign a Consent Form allowing us to share their personal data with an emailing company.

These requirements are being implemented. The Friends have a simple clear documented system of personal data protection.

by Ann Pilkington – Treasurer


Friends of Higham values your privacy.  We safeguard your personal data.

Friends of Higham use the information you have put on your membership application form to post to you correspondence relating to membership, annual newsletter and AGM invitation. If you require these items emailed to you we need a written consent from you.  We do not share your personal data with anyone unless we have your consent.

Spotlight on Kay Leech

Kay has become a familiar face at Higham, having attended eight courses in eight months. We met up with Kay in June to find out a bit more about her and the work going in to her first ever solo exhibition.

Although she’d done a few embroidery kits and A-Level Art at school, Kay got in to art having retired from a career in training.

For a number of years Kay lived on The Wirral and fondly remembers going to exhibitions at Voirrey Embroidery and Cajoba, both of which ran day courses. In the 80’s, now with her own children to take care of, she did a couple of these courses “as a break from being mother”. It was at this time she saw an inspiring textiles exhibition of work by Birkenhead City & Guilds students and thought, “I wouldn’t mind doing that in the future”. This thought wouldn’t resurface until 30 years later.

Having lived and worked all over the place, Kay and her husband, Roger, felt they had no particular ties as to where they would like to spend their retirement. They chose Cumbria where they had enjoyed walking on holidays and to live in the Eden Valley, that was both beautiful and affordable.

In the two years it took to sort out the house, Kay visited Farfield Mill, a textile and heritage crafts centre near Sedbergh. She spoke to Mary Taylor, one of several textile artists in residence, who recommended attending a City & Guilds course. In September 2010 Kay began her Certificate in Stitched Textiles (Embroidery) at Carnforth. By 2014 she had completed her Diploma, along with a tiny, silk background that had been waiting, half-finished, for three decades.

Kay joined her local art group, Culgaith Artists, to meet people with similar interests and share ideas. Not long after she’d joined, she was hosting creative textile workshops in the Village Hall and at home.
Kay has exhibited her work locally alongside other artists from the Eden Valley and was highly commended at the 2017 Scottish Quilt Show. She has recently become a member of Northern Threads, a group of 30 textile artists covering a range of disciplines who meet in the North East. She admires the work of Pauline Burbidge, Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beaney.

The Friends of Higham Scholarship has given Kay an ideal opportunity to produce a significant body of work for her own exhibition. She was sure her project would be made from stitched textiles, while the subject matter of geology came from an interest she shares with her husband. An interest that’s taking over their house, due to an ever-expanding mineral collection.

Kay has used the Higham courses to explore Geology in depth and in a wider context. Her project, ‘Connections’, tells the story of how the Cumbrian landscape was formed using textile pieces. Each one displaying a different kind of fabric manipulation. Following one geology course, Kay was brimming over with fabulous new words like ‘graywacke’ and ‘fossiliferous’. She is now incorporating these terms in to her artwork.

In thinking about how her work has been influenced by her courses, Kay said, “because it’s a project, it has made me think about what I was doing, as opposed to just carrying on doing what I have always done.” She has tried new techniques, talked to lots of different people and looked at her own work afresh.

‘Connections’ on display 11th – 30th of November. Kay will be an artist in residence at Higham available to talk about her work on the 17th, 20th and 29th of November.

News Update March 2018

584 527 Sally

Welcome to the March News Update

Our inaugural scholarship winner, Kay Leech, is making fabulous progress in developing her project, ‘Connections’. Kay won the scholarship having proposed a series of ten artworks based on the story of the Cumbrian landscape, making links between geology and art.

Kay is brimming with ideas and has tried all sorts of new textile techniques, filling lots of preparatory sketchbooks. She began Sketching with an iPad, went on to study the Geology of Britain, recreated geological structures in Free-form Crochet and survived The Ice Age and its Aftermath in Lakeland.

Kay’s next course is Circles in Stone with Bruce Bennison, visiting some of Cumbria’s most important prehistoric monuments.

On Sunday the 11th of November, Kay will be at Higham to present her completed work, which will then go on display for two weeks.

News from Higham

George Cooke and the Higham Trustees are working with an architect to try and improve the accessibility and aesthetics of the Courtyard area. The idea is to create an Art Gallery extension within part of the courtyard and link the Studio to the main building, providing level access to the toilets and Dining Room.

It is very early on in the development process, but we look forward to seeing the plans when they become available.

The Friends AGM ~ 25th of March

Thank you to everyone who has already booked their place at this month’s AGM and to those who have sent their apologies for absence.

I look forward to seeing you at Higham soon, Sally x