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History and Interests

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Sir Peter Vardy


Before moving to Scotland Sir Peter Vardy had dedicated almost half a century to business and enterprise in the north east of England. His career began in 1963, aged 16 years old, when he joined his father’s car and haulage business, Reg Vardy, in Tyne and Wear. On the death of his father in 1976, Peter took control of the car business and developed franchises for some of the world’s finest performance and luxury manufacturers.  

The company was sold in February 2006 for £506 million, enabling Sir Peter to concentrate on “putting something back” in the UK and across the world.

Sir Peter is now Chairman of the Vardy Group of Companies which includes his sons’ businesses; the Vardy Property Group and Peter Vardy Ltd, as well as being a director and/or investor in various companies throughout the UK. However, the majority of his time is spent on The Vardy Foundation, the charitable trust of the Vardy family established over 30 years ago. 



Our Approach

Sir Peter brings a business approach to his philanthropy and as such is a firm believer in prevention rather than dealing with the consequences.  The Foundation has two main areas of particular interest, both connected to the vicious cycle of re-offending, aiming to prevent damage to people, families and communities.  As well, the Foundation responds to need where it finds it.

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Our Interests in
the last year


The first area of special interest is getting to the source of the problem via early intervention; for example preventing children entering the care system from where such a high percentage end up in the prison system. To achieve this, Sir Peter established a new UK charity, Safe Families for Children, which mirrors a very successful charity in the USA, where in Chicago alone, over 25,000 families in crisis have been helped by early intervention support, keeping 93% of them together and helping to reduce the number of children going into care by almost 50%. In 2012, Sir Peter funded a successful regional trial which the Department for Education match-funded in order to expand the charity nationally. Safe Families for Children has developed throughout the UK and is now working with 5,000 volunteers through 45 local authorities, achieving a reduction of children being taken into care of up to 20%.

As well as preventing children going into Care, The Foundation is keen to support those leaving Care to maximise their many talents. Over the last year the foundation has started to consider how it might best support work in this area.


The second area of special interest is to provide better outcomes for those leaving prison, to prevent re-offending and tackle drug and alcohol dependency. Of this group women and their children are a particularly disadvantaged group and over the last year we have been exploring how we might help them better

As well as these two areas of particular focus, the Foundation has also funded several significant projects each of which addresses very significant needs:

A donation of £900K was made this year to the international charity, Mercy Ships, for the sponsorship of an Eye Clinic on board their new medical ship, the Global Mercy. The grant was made as part of a matched donation and thus helped this global Christian charity raise £1.8M.


Mercy Ships brings hope and healing to those suffering from disability, disfigurement and disease. To do so, they deploy hospital ships and partner with African nations to transform surgical systems and provide free surgery to those most in need. Their work is led by a team of volunteers from up to 50 nations, all of whom give their time and expertise for free.


The Global Mercy, which is the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, is already in operation. Along with the existing Mercy Ships fleet, it will double the opportunities for safe and free surgery. Over the next 50 years of Global Mercy’s lifespan, it is expected that more than 150,000 lives will be transformed by surgery. Since 2000, the Vardy Foundation has given over £2.7m to Mercy Ships.

In the last year the Trustees also awarded a total of £286K in two grants to The Good Shepherd Foundation. Both grants were directed to their Ministry’s programme to vaccinate as many people as possible.


The Good Shepherd has started work on building a National Medical Centre where medical teams will be able to help desperate families virtually, by trained physicians linking with Good Shepherd telehealth centres in outlying, rural villages. These interventions give local people a chance of a better life, not just through the direct medical attention but also through community support of employment and children’s schooling. Their efforts are also focussed on preventing women and girls from being exploited.


During the year under review, the Trustees awarded £125K to the charity, Kids Operating Rooms.  The donation funded 50 per cent of a dedicated Operating Room for children within the AIC Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, again as part of a successful matched funded donation. This donation will mean more children in Kenya have access to safe and timely life-saving surgery.


KidsOR operating rooms are comprised of over 3,000 pieces of specialised paediatric equipment. Each item meets the highest functional, technical and regulatory requirements and is tested in the charity’s centre for global operations in Dundee before being shipped to the country in question.


Each operating room, including recovery and waiting rooms, is individually designed by their architects and engineers to meet the needs and available space within partner hospitals. KidsOR then work with local teams to transform the space and install equipment. Training for hospital staff on specific machinery is provided both remotely and through local biomedical experts.  After three years of support, KidsOR hand control over to partner hospitals.

Below are images from some of the projects we have recently funded.  For more details on each project just click on the image.


The Sage Gateshead
The Sage Gateshead
The Message Trust
The Message Trust
Foundation of Light
Royal Visit
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