Trustee Week 2023 - My role as Chair of the Foundation

November 7, 2023

Jo’s father, Adrian Toole – tells us about his role as Chair of the Foundation for Trustee Week 2023

As one amongst the million acting as voluntary trustees in the UK, the following are some very personal reflections on why being Chair of the Joanna Toole Foundation is so important to me, and for the animals the foundation helps

Five years ago, I was settling into retirement, cycling and sailing around Exmouth where I live. I had no inclination to become a trustee and no particular interest in animal welfare, although being a vegetarian, I don’t eat them!  On 10th March 2019 life changed for ever. My daughter Joanna was on a flight over Ethiopia when her Boeing 737MAX fell to Earth, killing her and 156 others. There was to be no more peace for me. My role now as her Trustee is a mission of love.

Joanna was an animal welfare campaigner and had dedicated her all-too-short career to the defence of those beings that she know had no voice of their own. Strangely Jo, as an adult, never had a hands-on job with animals; she reasoned that for her to create nothing less than a new world, in which the exploitation of animals for food, for sport, for – you name it–  was to be in the past, she needed to persuade people in power to her cause.

Friends & family determined that Jo’s name and mission would not be forgotten and in February of 2020 the Joanna Toole Foundation ( JTF) was incorporated as a CIO grant giving body to projects Jo would have loved to help. I was honoured to become the Chair.  The Trustees were chosen both because they were dear friends of Jo, but also because they had relevant experience and expertise in animal welfare and charity management. I do not have these skills, but this was not necessary for the role of Chair within the Foundation as instead, I could use my passion and stead-fold determination to ensure Jo’s work was recognised and remembered, by ensuring the objectives were co-ordinated, managed and achieved.

Being a Trustee, and particularly a Chair is not a role to take lightly. The Foundation does not have any staff but we must still have the correct processes and polices in place to ensure we are both meeting legal requirements as a CIO and are effective as possible in our use of funds. Almost all of our funding comes from family donations so I spend no time on fundraising but much on the administration of our grant rounds and liaising with grantees and associated organisations across the planet. Working together is key – utilising our individual strengths and shared skills and we meet regularly to discuss Foundation plans. I organise the Trustee meetings, mostly remotely but occasionally in person and I lend help to our Treasurer in fulfilling the onerous Charity Commission reporting requirements. We are very fortunate to also be supported by a Expert Advisory team, whom, while they do not have voting rights, play an extremely important role in the Foundation’s activities.

The first of our Charitable Objects makes it clear what we hoped to achieve for Jo through the Foundation: To continue the work of Joanna Helen Toole in advancing the welfare of animals, in particular but not exclusively, that of marine fauna.

We have been involved with four rounds of the Joanna Toole Ghost Gear Solutions award, working with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and Ocean Conservancy. We have also supported projects spanning the globe, including towards providing PASA with support for their Primate Care Training Programme, to the ADCH with their Cost of Living Emergency Relief Fund. You can find out about more projects we’ve funded in our news section.

We may not do this as well as Jo would have done, but we do our very best to ensure that Jo is not forgotten and that her mission succeeds. Jo was One in a Million and I understand now why so many bereaved parents set up campaigning charities.