William Davis Education Foundation (established 1811)

Walter is a trustee and Vice Chairman and helps with much of the great work that his charity does.



The Foundation https://www.wdef.org.uk/ was set up in 1811 by William Davis, a dynamic industrialist and financier who established the Pheonix Fire Assurance Company, which eventually became part of Royal Sun Alliance in 1984. His father, also William Davis, arrived in London from Craven Arms in Shropshire and established a business refining sugar in London.  William Davis resided at Wellclose in Gloucestershire and Ingatestone in Essex. Recent trustees included the late Admiral Sir William Wellclose Davis (Walter's grandfather) and the late Major Patrick Davis, and the current trustees are all relatives of the William Davis. John Davis (son of Admiral Sir William Davis) is Chairman. 



The charity was set up to help with the religious, physical and academic education of children, principally in the Hackney and Tower Hamlets areas of London.


Current activities

The trustees work with the London Diocesan Board of Schools (LDBS) to provide grants to their schools in Hackney and Tower Hamlets for imaginative projects which would be difficult otherwise to fund. This way the grant money is used by the schools for projects which would really benefit the education of many children and assist in improving the ethos of the schools.


Examples of recent grants

  • In 2020, we gave a grant of £10,000 to Together with the LDBS we established the Prom Praise. This unique event happens every 2 years and children from LDBS schools across the Diocese of London attend the Albert Hall for an evening of singing. Around 4000 children attend and put many hours practice singing in advance. It is quite moving to see so many children benefiting from the experience of going to the Albert Hall and enjoying their singing.​

  • The trustees provided a grant to Holy Trinity School Dalston to implement an innovative program to enhance the curriculum providing all children with the opportunity to use technology which will help the children as they grow into adults and give them better career prospects​

  • The trustees have provided grants to buy new books for many schools libraries including St Saviours school, Tower Hamlets (where some schools previously had a limited number of books).

  • A recent grant bought art materials for religious art project at St John Jerusalem school Hackney.

  • A number of grants have been used to help teach children the benefits of healthy eating. We jointly funded a project with Jamie Oliver to build a pod kitchen in the garden of St Pauls school Whitechapel, to help children learn to cook and eat healthy food, which has also benefited the children’s parents.

  • The trustees recently gave a grant to St Peters school Wapping to fund a swimming course for children at the Olympic Games venue in Stratford. This was a life changing event for many of the children some who previously could not swim and they watched the Olympic diving squad.

  • The trustees gave a grant to pay for a pianist at Stepney Greencoat school Hackney for their choir and daily assemblies. The choir then went on to sing at a local event in front of the Queen, a great success!