Our connection to Sir Winston Churchill
Recent media coverage has suggested that we have been unclear about our connection to Sir Winston Churchill. As the national memorial created as his living legacy in 1965, we would like to set the record straight.
"I and the rest of my family, fully and unreservedly, support the remarkable work of the Churchill Fellowship, which is the truly wonderful living memorial to Sir Winston Churchill." – Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, former Conservative MP
The Churchill Fellowship was created on the death of Sir Winston, as a national memorial to his wartime leadership. We are proud of his contribution to saving the world from Nazism and of our connection to him. Our Chairman is his grandson, Jeremy Soames.
Our purpose was approved by Sir Winston and remains the same as it was in 1965. We offer the chance for every UK citizen – regardless of their background, qualifications or age – to study practical topics abroad and share what they have learned with their community or profession in the UK. That is the concept which Sir Winston approved and which we continue today.
Since 1965 we have awarded over 5,800 Fellowships, and today there are 3,800 active Fellows working in every field of national life. Every Fellowship embodies values we have taken from Sir Winston's example: global learning, public service and a belief in the potential of every individual.
Last month we simplified our name to 'the Churchill Fellowship'. We did so not because we are disowning Sir Winston, but because over many years we have found that, in a simple practical sense, the name was confusing to people and did not explain what we do. People thought that 'Winston Churchill Memorial Trust' meant we looked after Sir Winston’s statues or his historical archives, which is not the case.
What we do is to fund UK citizens to learn from the world and transform lives across the UK – as Sir Winston wished. The new name captures a sense of the Fellows’ remarkable dedication and public service.
It was a change that had been decided in 2019, in consultation with hundreds of Fellows. The key element we kept was the name ‘Churchill’. You cannot look at our new logo and avoid the importance we attach to that name.
Today there is international admiration for Sir Winston's wartime leadership in saving Britain and the world from Nazism. There is also controversy about his views on race. We acknowledge the many issues and complexities involved on all sides. Our statement from 2020 is here.
None of this takes away from Sir Winston's enormous contribution to the world as we know it today. Nor from the life-changing work that Churchill Fellows are doing every day across the country, in every area of national life.