By 1923, the City of Hull Great War Trust had become a huge business, dealing with increasing numbers of ex servicemen becoming disabled with age. It became necessary to establish it as a Trust, regulated by Deed. Managed by a Committee, consisting of a President, Vice President and six Trustees. The Great War Trust administered funds of £140,000. (About £4 million today). The need for the Great War Trust grew as Hull ex servicemen grew older and their wounds worsened. By 9th January 1923, the Trust was dealing with 1,077 cases and distributing £10,907 in awards. By 1924 this had increased to 1,294 cases and the Trust was distributing £43,890 a year (£1.2 million). The local office of the Ministries of Pensions recorded that there were 20,000 disabled servicemen in Hull by 1924.
The City of Hull Great War Trust set out its aims in a Charter to assist those injured, and the dependents of those killed or disabled between the dates 4th August 1914 to 30th September 1921.
The Trust had powers to assist, disabled ex servicemen from Hull, their widows and other dependents, their children; provide temporary accommodation for orphans, and homes of rest for the incapacitated.
The Trust set aside some donations specifically for memorials at the request of subscribers. It helped fund the ‘Great East Window’, in Holy Trinity Church, which cost £1,500. This was a Memorial to fallen Officers. Beneath the window was placed a tablet and ‘Golden Book’ recording as best it could, all those that died in the war. The tablet was to cost £750 (of which £200 was donated by Mrs Shaw, the widow of Colonel G H Shaw, killed with 1/4th East Yorkshire Regiment)
The City of Hull Great War Trust continued to help veterans and their dependents until 1983. On a number of occasions, in its history the Trust faced extinction due to a lack of donations. In 1936 its life expectancy was put at 12 more years. Then there was talk of starting another Trust after the Second World War. There was another closure scare in 1960 and it was nearly ‘Last Post’ in 1977, when two descendants from the First World War, died aged 92 and 86 years old. There was by then, just £810.40 (£2,800) left in the Fund to help 14 Beneficiaries. These included 9 Widows, 2 Spinsters, 2 widowers and 1 bachelor, receiving £46 per month.
While the payment of grants and allowances may seem meager by today’s standard, it should be remembered that the Trust was established before Britain had a National Health Service and a Welfare State. Hull’s Great War Trust was a pioneering charity, wholly funded by voluntary donations. It was dealing with complex disability claims, which increased in number and changed, over time. It became a delicate operation to make the Trust’s scare funds last over the years. Trustees had to spend and invest wisely to predict income streams. It had to estimate how long claimants would require funding, or how many people would make new claims.
The Trust finally closed at 11am, on the 11th November 1983. in the Lord Mayor’s Parlor, where it had begun. A two minutes silence was held at the end of the meeting. The remaining funds were distributed equally between the last 7 beneficiaries, all of which were female relatives, aged between 60 and 90 years old.
The City of Hull Great War Trust had lasted 65 years. In all it paid out £289,000 to over 4,000 beneficiaries. As the Trust only recorded the main Beneficiaries and not their families, the Trust helped and supported considerably more Hull citizens.
The City of Hull Great War Trust is a remarkable story. It is a tribute to Hull which pioneered this unique Charity to help its own disabled servicemen and their dependents. It’s a tribute to the People of Hull which donated so generously, and a Tribute to the Trustees that framed the Charter and managed the Great War Trust for so long. The last man to apply for help was Mr A Chester, who returned his £8 monthly pension in 1977. He asked to be taken off the Trust’s books and even returned £50 which he managed to save in payments, for those in more need. This nobly reflects how much the Trust was appreciated by those it helped.