From the start it was clear that the project would be more than a simple website and leaflet of the trail. We wanted to engage the community, including younger people who would have no memory of the presence of the Royal Marines, and really bring the military history of the town to life. This would require grant funding and a proper structure for the project. Bill Butler received enough encouraging responses from potential funders to indicate that the project was viable so we looked at the structure of the project.
That structure came in the form of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation which is a registered charity, but such organisations have to show that they will provide a benefit to the whole public. A small team gathered to prepare an application to the Charity Commission, which had to be written in a way that demonstrated the public benefit that the project would provide. Many pages of guidance were studied to make sure that we phrased our aims in a way that showed how we complied with their requirements to be a charity.
On the 29th October 2016 we submitted our application and were told not to expect any response for 8 weeks but much sooner than that we received a reply that our application would be acceptable with a very minor change of wording. We made that change and on the 12 December 2016 we were registered as a charity.
Being a registered charity brings some tax advantages, but the main benefit is that it shows funders that we are a bona-fide organisation which can be trusted to use grants to bring positive change in the way we present our heritage. The response from funders has been all we could have hoped for, and the registered charity status will ensure that we report how we have spent the money each year.