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Cecil Jackson-Cole (1901-1979) was an entrepreneur and humanitarian, who is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern charitable giving – he played a large role in the founding of Oxfam, Help The Aged, ActionAid, and a number of other charitable organisations.
With a shrewd commercial mind, Jackson-Cole used his business acumen to drive charities forward. CJC established the first charity shop in the UK with the opening of an Oxfam shop in Oxford and was the first to advertise a charity appeal in the national press.
In 1946, Jackson-Cole founded Andrews & Partners, a commercial property company which he subsequently gifted, in 1965, to three charitable trusts. The Company continues to pay an annual charitable dividend from its profits to the Trusts, to this day. Andrews & Partners has distributed £3.7 million to the charitable Trusts in the ten years 2001 – 2010.
Jackson-Cole made clear to the staff recruited to set up Andrews & Partners that the purpose was to assist charity through the new business. He intended to attract a team of public spirited business people who would achieve good profits with highest integrity; and would assist charity not only by providing financial support out of profits, but by executives and staff involving themselves in carrying out charitable objects. He believed that the enterprise and abilities developed in a business context were as necessary to help the progress of charities as financial support.
Despite his great vision and huge contribution to charitable activity, Jackson-Cole eschewed publicity, sought no personal recognition and received no honours.
Cecil Jackson-Cole (born Albert Cecil Cole) was born in 1901 in East London. His father was a shopkeeper who went into the Army in 1914, leaving his mother to raise the family on 21 shillings a week.
By that time, Cecil, the eldest son, was in his last year of compulsory education. He left school when he was 12.
His mother died in 1926, and her husband survived her and remarried. He died in later 1933 or early 1934, leaving an infant son, John Cole. Following her death, Albert Cecil-Cole added his mother’s maiden name to his own, changing his name to Cecil Jackson-Cole by deed poll.
Business attracted him from the beginning, and he soon showed a talent for it, especially on the selling side. During the war years he worked for a firm of produce brokers in London.
In 1918, Jackson-Cole bought an ailing furniture business in Highbury, W.Andrews and Sons, and took over as manager, growing the business steadily during the 1920s and 1930s.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Andrews (Furnishers) Ltd. had five branches in London and one in Oxford. Jackson-Cole, a conscientious objector, moved himself and his headquarters from London to Oxford.
The furniture business did not provide all the opportunities an entrepreneur like Cecil Jackson-Cole needed, and he began to look in other directions for an outlet for his energies.
At a Preparative Meeting of the Society of Friends in 1943, it was identified that food, fuel and supplies of all kinds would be urgently needed for people whose countries were liberated from German occupation. This was already the case in Greece, where people were starving as a result of the British blockades.
In response to this, the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief was set up, to appeal to inhabitants of Oxford to subscribe £4,000 to buy and ship food to Greece. The organisation – which quickly became known as Oxfam – appointed Jackson-Cole as Honorary Secretary, and he introduced fund raising methods which he had previously experimented with other charities.
The first Oxfam shop was opened, for a week, in Broad Street, Oxford to raise funds for this cause.
Jackson-Cole was involved at a critical point in Oxfam’s development, pioneering techniques which were to be of much wider benefit later. He understood the importance of persuading as many people as possible to contribute to the appeal, not only financially, but also in providing support for the cause.
Jackson-Cole organised the Greek Famine Relief Week, with film shows, performances of Greek dancing, concerts and other events. The whole effort, including the gift shop, raised £13,000, a remarkable effort for one town in wartime, and far higher than the £4,000 target.
In 1963, Oxfam began its international extension with the establishment of a Canadian committee in Toronto followed by the inauguration of Oxfam-Belgique. With the evangelistic perspective that Jackson-Cole held, he cherished words once spoken to him by Gilbert Murray: ‘There is a responsible spirit behind the universe who is seeking to remedy the suffering.’ Jackson-Cole felt that if this spirit could work through the British, it could also be summoned from the peoples of other countries.
In 1946, Leslie Swain and Raymond Andrews joined Jackson-Cole in business, both answering an advertisement from ‘a Company which gives a third of its profits to the staff, a third to charity and the remaining third for the organisation’. The company was Andrews & Partners. Raymond Andrews was engaged to manage it, and Leslie Swain to set up its mortgage and insurance broking department.
Jackson-Cole believed that, in order to be successful, a charity had to be run as a business. In order to transform Oxfam into a national body, Leslie Swain was seconded to Oxfam for a year from Andrews & Partners, where he had been since the business was set up in 1946.
His most important contribution to Oxfam and the progression of charities in general throughout Britain, was to work against the norm of financial caution. Through the backing of his own company Andrews, he eventually changed the face of charitable activity in the UK. One way which finances were spent was through purchasing the maximum amount of space allowed in The Times under newsprint rationing for an Oxfam advertisement. The advert sought funds to purchase food offered to COBSRA by the government and at its foot was the legend ‘Space presented by Andrews and Partners’. It cost £55 and raised £1,200.
In the late 1940s, the C. Jackson-Cole Settlement Fund was established, in order to receive the income from some of Jackson-Cole’s shares in the Andrews business. The work carried out by Andrews’ staff in the organisation of charities was mostly done through an informal committee set up in 1953 and known as the Help for Vital Causes Group. The title was later changed to Voluntary and Christian Service.
Through the VCS, Jackson-Cole created and developed Help the Aged, several Housing Associates and the children’s charity, ActionAid, to a point where they could be spun-off as self-governing charities.
In 1954, Andrews & Partners became involved in a Toc H plan to help pensioners. Jackson-Cole was approached for his support to help open a work room in Ilford where elderly people would be able to earn money to supplement their pensions, and at the same time help to overcome the problem of loneliness by bringing them into contact with other people. Jackson-Cole launched a house-to-house appeal in Ilford, raising £1,700. Part of this appeal, which was called Help The Aged at Home and Abroad, went to setting up a work room.
In 1959, Jackson-Cole became aware that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) intended to promote a Parliamentary bill to control estate agents. The purpose of this bill was to restrict the advertising to new entrants to the business. The Bill was eventually presented in 1963, Cecil Jackson-Cole played a large role in the lobbying which defeated it. Jackson-Cole’s initiative led to the formation of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), now the UK’s leading governing body for estate agency practice.
In 1965, the first endowed Trust, was established (this later became the Andrews Charitable Trust (ACT). Two smaller trusts soon followed, the CIT and the CBPT. CIT then became part of ACT.
These two charitable trusts own the Andrews & Partners group, with Andrews Charitable Trust as the majority shareholder in the business. Under this arrangement, Andrews pays a minimum of 35% pretax profits annually to the charities as a charitable dividend.
Cecil Jackson-Cole passed away from cancer in 1979.
However, his legacy has continued at Andrews, which now employs over 500 staff and has over 80 sales and lettings branches across the South of England.
The Andrews Group continues to be committed to charitable work and community involvement initiatives, and its charitable trusts continue to provide seed-corn funding to help new charities to grow and prosper.