The Trust was formed in 1956 from endowments from the late Sir George Martin – a prominent Leeds business man and civic figure who became the Lord Mayor of Leeds and High Sheriff of Yorkshire, and in appreciation of his outstanding public service was awarded the position of Honorary Freeman in 1966 which granted him ‘freedom of the city of Leeds’.
By his will, Sir George Martin left the residue of his estate to the Trust and at the time of his death, most of his assets were in the form of land. The majority of these were subsequently sold for substantial amounts, which enabled the Trustees to invest in a wide range of investments, including equities, government and other fixed interest and convertible stocks. The Trust works to maintain existing levels of donations, at the same time as ensuring that the Trust’s funds remain soundly invested with an eye to making capital appreciation where possible.
Most of the current Trustees knew Sir George Martin and generally approach the making of grants in the spirit of giving with what is believed to have been his wishes.
Sir George Martin's nephew, Peter Marshall O.B.E., was Director and Secretary of the Trust from 1976 – 2012. As well as nurturing the Trust's investment portfolio and personally administering grants totalling more than £150,000 a year, Peter helped to raise millions of pounds for projects including Bolton Abbey Priory, Fountains Abbey, Castle Howard Arboretum, and the Cancer Centre at St James’s Hospital in Leeds.
Carla Marshall, Peter’s daughter-in-law, was appointed as the Secretary/Administrator in 2013 and now has the role of Trust Manager, handling all aspects of the Trust’s activities and operations. Carla is a member of the steering committee for the Yorkshire Grant Makers’ Forum – a bi-annual day of learning and networking for funder managers and trustees in the region, as well as being part of the Yorkshire & Humber Funders’ Forum.