LVS Ascot (formerly Licensed Victuallers School) was established in 1803 by the Society of Licensed Victuallers* to provide education for the children of poor publicans. Today, under the ownership of Licensed Trade Charity, LVS Ascot still supports the children of families working in the licensed hospitality industry.
So when a crisis strikes, perhaps a relationship breakdown, illness or mental health issues, it’s reassuring to know that the Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) is there to help, not just with its lines of advice. confidential assistance, financial support, health and housing, but with schooling through LVS Ascot.
For two families, LVS Ascot – a coeducational independent school set in the beautiful leafy 25-acre Ascot estate – has been a lifesaver.
Not only did this give parents peace of mind knowing their children were safe, supported and receiving a great education, but the children received the care and attention they needed to excel and live their better life.
Sue Chance worked and managed pubs for over 20 years with companies including Greene King and Marston’s – her father and uncle were also publicans, having had tenancies with Banks’s (Marston’s).
After a breakup, she looked for ways to allow her to continue working and give her children, Lauren and Alfie, the best education – Alfie suffered from dyslexia and was not getting the support he needed. So Sue got in touch with the LTC and after being asked about her situation, she got a commercial discount to get the kids into boarding school with LVS Ascot.
Unfortunately, a subsequent car accident prevented Sue from working. This led the charity to reassess its financial situation, before awarding it a full scholarship for the children, which both allowed them to stay in school and gave Sue time to recover.
When things didn’t improve for Sue, who a few years later was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, the charity was there with unparalleled support and care. “For Alfie, a 15-year-old boy doing his GCSEs, it was a dreadful time. He heard the word ‘cancer’ and thought his mum was going to die. But his householder, James Wilder, was wonderful and has helped Alfie through some of the toughest days of his life,” recalls Sue.
“The charity has just been brilliant, supporting me and Alfie in particular. Knowing that his upbringing was safe was amazing. It allowed me to focus on my improvement,” says Sue, explaining that her daughter, Lauren, left LVS Ascot to take up a place at a local school, in order to be closer to her mother.
Sue continues: “LVS Ascot and James made my boy the person he is today – a kind and confident young man.”
In addition to his education, LVS Ascot supported Alfie with pastoral care, arranging counseling for him and he continued to thrive in the caring and compassionate environment of the school. He excelled there, becoming house captain and achieving excellent results in his GCSEs and A-levels. Alfie is currently studying for a business degree at Nottingham Trent University.
Sue’s story doesn’t end there. Despite all the hardships she faced in her life, when her niece and nephew suffered massive trauma in their lives, it was Sue who welcomed them into her home and became their guardian. One of the children now at LVS Ascot, after the charity reassessed Sue’s family situation.
“The charity looks at the whole picture, not just the child’s situation,” adds Sue. “They helped us in so many ways. It’s not just about the money either, they really care. When we went into lockdown, the manager, Christine Cunniffe, heard we were struggling and reached out to us – she even sent me flowers to brighten my day. Little things like that make such a difference – everyone at the charity and at school are such kind and genuinely caring people. LVS ascot builds strong relationships with the children – we are one big family.
Scholarships according to financial situation
Another family that has benefited from LTC support is the Hamilton family.
Richard Hamilton has been in the pub business for 30 years, the last 20 with the Stonegate Pub Group, where he is currently Managing Director in London.
When Henry Hamilton was struggling at his local school, mum Rebecca started looking for other options. She was unaware of LVS Ascot and the help available through LTC, but within an hour of finding out about the discounts and scholarships available to families employed in the licensed beverage business, she called the LTC.
“I started telling them about Henry and they invited us to apply for a scholarship. Henry is dyslexic and low GCSE grades were expected. He had always been athletic but he had lost all self-confidence,” explains Rebecca. “But within three weeks of starting at LVS Ascot, her life just changed.”
Where Henry had been predicted to achieve Cs and Ds at GCSE, his final grades at LVS Ascot were As and Bs. When a person begins to believe in themselves, they can achieve amazing things.
With the support and guidance of the staff at LVS Ascot, Henry took every opportunity presented to him and was subsequently appointed assistant house captain and senior boarder. “He won a lot of awards and got a scholarship, on top of his scholarship, which was huge for us,” says Rebecca, explaining that scholarships are based on the financial situation of the family, whereas a scholarship is given for studies, sports, art or musical achievements.
After successfully completing his A-levels with LVS Ascot, Henry went on to study Sports Science at Nottingham Trent University and gained placement with a professional rugby team.
When Henry’s younger sister, Maddie, also began to struggle, Rebecca again turned to LTC for help, and Maddie joined LVS Ascot in 7th grade. She is now in grade 12, having benefited from the kind and empowering environment provided by LVS Ascot. Maddie is now set to travel to Ecuador this summer with Camps International, organized by the school, and she hopes to continue studying criminology and psychology at university.
Rebecca adds: “I feel guilty for all the support we have received, but we are all very grateful for the help we have received. I know how lucky we are and our children have taken every opportunity presented to them.
“If you work in the licensed trade and are concerned about the mental health or education of your children, or even if you are interested in the benefits of an independent education, LTC offers help. We have four children and two are doing well in mainstream education, but sometimes things don’t work out and it’s about finding a way to help each of your children do their best,” she says. “I encourage anyone in a similar situation to us to get in touch and visit the school. I would be very happy if LTC would put me in touch with anyone who would like to talk to me about LVS Ascot.
- For more information on grants, scholarships or trade discounts, contact the licensed charity via the helpline 0808 801 0550 or visit www.licensedtradecharity.org.uk.
* In 1793, the Friendly Society of Chartered Provisioners was created to help publicans afflicted by illness, age or poverty. Much of its income came from publishing a trade journal, the Publicans’ Morning Advertiser in 1794. On January 10, 1803, the Society opened the Licensed Victuallers’ School for the children of deceased or distressed members. In 2004, the Society of Licensed Victuallers became part of the Licensed Trade Charity.