Saturday, 9 November 2013

Anybody know the way to Rufford House?

Does anybody in Horsell or Woking know the whereabouts of Rufford House?  Residents have reported encountering delivery drivers looking for Rufford House along Brewery Road.
For me Rufford is a Lancashire town, north of Wigan and east of Southport, where a maternal aunt once lived.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that the new WWF offices on Brewery Road in Horsell, which have always been referred to as ‘The Living Planet Centre’, also bear the name ‘Rufford House’.
I was rather puzzled about this name as I couldn’t see any connection between the northern town and the charity’s Woking offices. 
A little online investigation revealed the existence of the Rufford Foundation.  This charity says that it “provides funding for small nature/biodiversity conservation projects and pilot programmes in developing countries”. 
Further searching uncovered that this foundation gave a substantial donation of £4.8M towards the £20M cost of the new WWF offices in 2012. 
Woking Council’s announcement of entering discussions with WWF also refers to a “significant donation” from the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation.

What is the Rufford Foundation? 

I have learned that it grew from the merger of the Maurice Laing and Rufford foundations.  The Maurice Laing foundation was set up by Maurice Laing, part of the family that owned the Laing construction company.   The Rufford Foundation was subsequently set up by his son John.  The two foundations merged in 2003.

I still have no idea why the foundation bears the name Rufford but the substantial funding support does explain why the Living Planet Centre has this additional name.

I just hope that WWF will provide either some clearer indication of their office address or better directions to delivery drivers to help put Rufford House on the map.

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