Frank Harcourt Munning
The Marr-Munning Trust was just the last of many charities to which Frank Harcourt-Munning dedicated his life. He founded the trust in 1970 with Sir Leslie Marr “to support charities giving Overseas Aid … for the relief of poverty, suffering and distress”. Frank had long held much of his property in trust for charitable purposes, and with the foundation of The Marr-Munning Trust, he placed everything he had into the trust, including his own home and all his spare cash. He then spent the remaining years of his life running the trust until his death in 1985.
Frank Harcourt-Munning was a lifelong Methodist and had been a preacher since his youth. After some time as a singer for a band of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, in 1931 he retired from singing and went into full-time social welfare work for the Methodist Church and for the National Children’s Home, of which he became a life governor in 1935.
The next big change in his life came with the Attlee Labour government’s establishment of the welfare state in the late 1940s. Frank became an overnight convert to politics: he joined the Labour Party and was later twice a parliamentary candidate for them, standing as a Christian Socialist, and working as a Labour Party agent.
During this time, he became involved with War on Want and, when it had become inactive in 1954, he took over as its administrator and then led it from then until his retirement in 1970. He was made a CBE for services to War on Want in the 1969 New Year Honours list. In 1983 he was made an honorary citizen of Skopje, Yugoslavia for his leadership of the War on Want campaign to raise money when an earthquake wrecked the city in 1963. The campaign raised £1.5 million for the disaster relief fund, which at that time was the largest amount ever collected by one relief organisation.
According to Marija Ceneveska, Head of International programmes at SS Cyril and Methodius University, Macedonia:
“I first met Mr Harcourt-Munning in 1980, a few years before his death. He was visiting the university in Skopje where I work. Frank had maintained a strong interest in the university ever since his work to help those affected by the Skopje earthquake in 1963. He was an impressive man and everyone who met him felt instantly at ease with him. I had the feeling I had known him all my life, at once recognising the love he had for all the people on the planet”