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How Legacies have Helped Us

Legacy gifts help safeguard the future of St George’s. Some of our Supporters wanted to share why it was important to them to support us through a gift in their Will – and we wanted to let you know how legacies have helped our charity.

A note from Suzanne Rolt

Chief Executive of St George’s from 2006 – 2021

In April 2021, Suzanne Rolt, who was St George’s Chief Executive for over 15 years, left the organisation for pastures new. In her final weeks as Chief Executive, she reflected on what made St George’s so special to the many artists, audience members and supporters who enjoyed music in this wonderful venue over the years. In doing so, she decided to leave her own legacy gift to St George’s, and wrote this note to share her sense of love for the charity and the work and music created here:

A now retired Trustee once told me that he considered each and every day that St George’s opened up, putting on the concerts it did, to be an extraordinary achievement, and nothing short of a minor miracle. He had seen at first-hand the ongoing challenges we faced, and the pressures bearing down on all sides. I had to agree that being the custodian of a concert hall was not for the faint hearted, and that leaps of faith had become one of the defining characteristics of our approach over the years. Most importantly though, without the many people who had stepped up to support us in our times of greatest need, we would have long ago had little choice but to close the doors.

There are key moments in our history when we have come through periods of adversity only because help has reached us in the shape of a legacy. These gifts are rarely foreseen and impossible to budget for, but they have a knack of arriving just when they are needed most. I have spoken on many occasions about the legacies received in the early days of the organisation, not least that from our Founding Chairman, Harry Edwards. We set Harry’s gift aside as something only to be used ‘for a rainy day’, and when the downpour came, it provided the cover we so desperately needed.

Over the past year we have received a number of legacies; they have come from people who have wanted to acknowledge the importance of music and, particularly St George’s, in their lives.

One gift was from a long-standing attendee who spent lots of tie at St George’s in the 1990s and took a decision then to help safeguard our future. Another was from a woman who had moved to a different part of the country and not attended for many years, but who had clearly never forgotten the venue. Both these gifts gave us a tremendous lift and, on a practical level, allowed us to keep going with our plans during the most trying months of the pandemic.

As I approach my final weeks at St George’s, I have been reflecting on the past and thinking how privileged I have been to work here and to have collected such rich memories – my mind is full to bursting with the many, many unforgettable concerts that I have attended, and the people who have been alongside me in the audience, as well as on stage. My seat, H22, will always hold a special place in my heart! I have decided that I would like to do something to help ensure St George’s future success, so that others can come through its doors and feel moved in the way that I have on countless occasions.

For this reason, I have decided to leave a bequest in my own Will. I am still pondering the details but I am drawn towards the idea of directing help towards young musicians who are starting out on their careers. My means are not great but, depending on my circumstances when the bequest comes to St George’s, it might support a one-off concert or extend across several years; or it might be given without restrictions, a little like Harry’s umbrella gift, so that it can go where it is most needed.

I will not be here to know what happens of course but, in the meantime, I can enjoy the feeling it gives me to think that I will be helping a young person to take what might be one of the most important steps in their career. Perhaps it will be the next Paul Lewis or Angela Hewitt!

So I would like to ask if you consider joining me in doing the same?

The Development team are more than happy to talk you through the options with you.  St George’s is a very special place where extraordinary things happen, and the decision we make today could well prove to be a lifeline for it in future times.

Thank you for reading and thank you as always for all you do for St George’s.


Our thank you: The Harry Edwards Circle

The Harry Edwards Circle is our way of marking the generosity and last impact enabled by those who acknowledge St George’s in a final bequest. Created in honour of our founding chairman, Harry Edwards, we are immensely grateful to those who pledge their support of our organisation and choose to remember St George’s in their Will.

It was Harry’s own passion for St George’s which saw the birth of the St George’s Music Trust (now St George’s Bristol) and it was under his leadership that the hall flourished. Harry died in 1995 but through gifts he bequeathed to St George’s in his estate, his enthusiasm for the venue and love of music lives on, enriching our artistic and learning programmes and helping to safeguard our beautiful building.