About Us


Supporting the children of our Police Forces goes back many years to when the Northern Police Orphanage first opened in 1898. It was founded by Catherine Gurney for the care and welfare of Northern Police Force children who had lost one or both parents.

In 1898 the Orphanage opened and over the next six decades more than 600 children spent all or part of their childhood there. Costs were funded by thousands of Serving Police Officers who made weekly donations from their pay. Other gifts and donations were received from well-wishers across the North of England and further afield.

The Orphanage closed in 1954 due to a reduction in the number of children seeking admission but the Charity still enjoys a friendship with many of the original St George’s House ‘Old Boys and Girls’. Although the last formal reunion was in 2018, many of the “Old Boys and Girls” still visit Harrogate each year for informal get togethers.

In 1954 on the closure of the Orphanage, the two trusts were formed, the St George’s Fund and the Northern Police Orphans Trust, both designed to provide financial grants to the children of eligible Police Donors. The original purpose of the St George’s Fund was to provide grants for “support, maintenance, education and advancement in life”, until a young person left full time education (up to and including further and higher education).

This is very similar to how it operates today. The Northern Police Orphans Trust provided grants to men and women over the age of 19 who had lost a Police Officer parent but who were unable to earn their own living because of having special needs.

In 2006 the two Charities merged, creating the St George’s Police Trust. Both the Fund and Trust had shared similar aims and so merging enabled the Beneficiary base to be widened and for the costs to be reduced.

The Charity was renamed St George’s Police Children Trust in 2012 and continued to support Police Families by helping to ease the financial pressures of bringing up children in the face of life-changing circumstances.

The Charity has always sought to ensure that it evolves to reflect the changing character and nature of modern policing and in 2018, it made significant changes to its financial benefit package in order to expand the financial support offered by the Trust. These changes included New Beneficiary Grants, Driving Lesson Grants and Child Counselling Grants and Partner Cover. The Charity provides cover for the children of eligible Police Donors who have died both on and off duty, or where the Serving Police Donor has taken early medical retirement, but started providing support in the case of the non-Police Parent dying.

In 2021 in a new and significant step forward for the Charity, the Trustees took the decision to introduce two new Grants to support the mental health and wellbeing of the children of eligible Police roles, who are current donors to the Charity. This was the first time that the children of serving Police Donors could access financial help from St George’s and demonstrates the Charity’s aspiration to ensure that it is truly reflective of the challenges of modern policing and fully supports the children of eligible Police roles in the 21st century who donate to the Charity, no matter what their situation and circumstances are.

In early 2022, the Charity went through a rebrand and changed its name to The Police Children’s Charity. We have found that the name lacked relevance for the new cohorts coming in and had also been said to not be inclusive for the National Forces we represent. Therefore, the Trustees made the decision to rename the Charity to better represent the work that we do. Despite the name change, the history of the charity and references to St George’s remain prevalent in our promotional literature, at St Andrews and through the name of our holiday cottage in Harrogate, which has kept its name of St George’s.

Nov 1897
The Orphanage building was chosen and price agreed, fundraising began.

Northern Police Forces expressed a definite wish to Miss Gurney for an Orphanage for their own children in their own area, and she immediately responded. Catherine Gurney chose the sites of the Homes she founded with acumen and with a keen eye to the future development of the area. Harrogate was a Spa town, healthy, with keen moorland air and in an accessible position.

In 1897 whilst visiting Harrogate, Catherine Gurney negotiated the purchase of St George’s College building and grounds of 12 acres (49,000 m2), for the sum of ₤10,000.

How the site was chosen, the story goes                                                             

In November 1897, walking over the Stray, Miss Gurney met a Constable (P.C.Chappell, who became Supt. Chappell later on).To him she put the query as to whether he knew of any house suitable for an Orphanage for the children of the Police. He told her of a Boys’ School, St. George’s College, that the Headmaster wished to sell. Immediately at first sight Miss Gurney knew that this was the house she wanted. It had possibilities possessed by none of the many other houses she had seen. After obtaining a report on it from the West Riding Surveyor, she made an offer of £9,500. To her intense dismay this was bluntly refused, the purchase price was stated to be £12,000. This was a figure beyond Miss Gurney’s means, especially as much of her own private income had been used for the Southern Orphanage and Home. Yet, she felt, here was the very house she needed. She left Harrogate to stay with Colonel and Mrs. Ainsworth at Smithills Hall, Bolton and whilst there, the thought of St. George’s College pressed very much on her mind. She herself said later, “I felt that the question must be fully faced and thought out. It was about 3.30 a.m. when I finally decided in prayer to make a bid for this house.” Accordingly, from the Post Office at Wigan, she sent a pre-paid telegram to the owner in the South of England offering £10,000 and adding “as for an Orphanage hope it may be accepted.” On her return that evening from Police meetings in Wigan and Blackburn, she found a telegram awaiting her at Smithills Hall. Nor are the contents surprising when the circumstances in which her offer was made are considered. The reply was “As for Orphanage will agree subject to legal advice.” Thus St. George’s College with its accompanying grounds of 12 acres, passed into Miss Gurney’s hands to be held in trust by her for the Northern Police Forces of England and Wales.

Jan 1898
The Northern Police Orphanage opened and first child housed (initially in temporary accommodation whilst renovations were carried out to building).

The first child, Minnie Smith from Sunderland, was taken in until closure in 1956 due to the declining numbers of children in need. A total of 644 children had passed through the doors of St George's House. Ten days later, two brothers, George and Alexander Nuttall from Burnley Borough, were admitted. However, these first children and others coming at this time, lived in a temporary home in Harrogate while St. George’s was being altered and repaired.

St George's House was maintained by the voluntary subscriptions of the Northern Police Forces of England and Wales. The subscription amounted to 2d or 3d per Officer per week and proved a successful method of assuring the regularity of income for the care of the children and maintenance of the house.

June 1942
Name changed to St George’s House.

Dec 1954
Orphanage closed.

Jan 1955
Albany Lodge opened, housing remaining members from the Orphanage.

Jan 1955
St George’s Fund was set up providing weekly allowances at the time of 10s per week to Police Officer’s children.

The grants/allowances were used to provide “support, maintenance, education and advancement in life”, until a young person left full time education (up to and including further and higher education). Wholly funded by subscription from members of the Police force, with no capital behind it whatsoever.

August 1956
Albany Lodge closed and any remaining children returned to their families.

Around mid-1960's

St George's House used to house and support individuals with special needs.

March 1967
Orphanage sold for £24,500

Northern Orphans Trust set up and grants commenced concentrating on supporting those with special needs and continuation of those people into further education who had been in Albany lodge.

Merge of the two Charities, St George’s Fund and Northern Orphans Trust to create the St George’s Police Trust.

Renamed St George’s Police Children Trust.

Significant changes made to widen eligibility and increase the support offered by the Trust to its Beneficiaries.

Renamed The Police Children’s Charity.

Widening Eligibility to Police Staff roles

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