Statement of Faith
We agree with the Evangelical Alliance's "Basis of Faith", which you will find here.
We work to a “pull” policy in our grants, which means that we provide only what our beneficiaries have asked for. The help we give is usually the provision of equipment or consumables (such as medication, clothing and toiletries). We don’t give ongoing support such as salaries or child sponsorship.
Nothing Taken for Administration
All of Natalya's Fund's expenses are paid out of our General Fund. Anyone can give specifically to this fund, but it never receives money given for one of our projects. (Miscellaneous money such as interest also goes into the General Fund.) That is how we ensure that 100% of each donation received goes to the specified cause: We take nothing out for administration, pay or marketing; and the General Fund pays all transaction fees incurred in online donations.
The fund was set up in 1992 after the stillbirth of Natalya Leighton, daughter of trustees Andrew & Chris. A funeral was held, and donations were invited in lieu of flowers. The initial thought was to use the money to buy equipment for the maternity unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital in South Wales, but it became clear that the hospital was well supplied with essential items and it did not seem appropriate to spend the money on non-essentials.
Stepping Into the Breach
After some networking a Lithuanian hospital was found to have a serious need for a pulse oximeter, an instrument used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient's blood - essential for premature babies. Equipment for Charity Hospitals Overseas (ECHO) could source the item; the British Lithuanian Relief Fund for Children in Lithuania could transport it safely to the hospital. So the arrangements were made and the item delivered. Who knows what effect that had in those days between Soviet domination and EU membership? At the time it was the only device of its type in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - before then oxygen levels were measured by analysing blood samples, the delay increasing the risk of blindness or brain damage if levels were too high or low.
A Life of its Own
After providing the pulse oximeter the fund was almost empty, and it was always intended to close it down. However, the school which Natalya's sister attended now wanted to contribute. Tutshill Church of England Primary School had been committed to supporting another charity when Natalya's funeral took place, and so was unable to contribute then (more details here). Andrew & Chris therefore decided to keep the fund open and, thinking that it was beginning to take on a life of its own, to register it as a charity. Registration was achieved in 1994, with a charitable object of helping children and young people in central and Eastern Europe. There were four trustees, including Andrew & Chris.
Since then Natalya's Fund has worked with YWAM (Youth With a Mission) in Russia, Love Russia, and other organisations. In 1996, in conjunction with Brewhouse Music, a recording of a live performance of Lithuanian music by a Lithuanian composer was released on CD and cassette to raise money for the Vilnius University Children's Hospital. (More details here.)
In 2006 the charitable object was expanded to include underprivileged children and young people anywhere overseas.
Natalya's Fund is a UK charity supporting underprivileged children and young people overseas. It provides tangible items and supports building projects as requested by those in the field. Since starting in 1992 the charity has raised almost £50,000 for its beneficiaries abroad.
It also has a "home mission" to encourage giving and so bless its supporters. As Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). It aims to promote giving by funding complete projects that make a tangible difference, providing photographic evidence of the improvements.
Other Biblical texts that inspire our work are: Matthew 6:20, 25:40, Proverbs 11:24-25, 22:6.
Chair and Treasurer
Andrew, Chris’ husband and Heather’s father, has been chair of Natalya’s Fund since its registration in 1994, and treasurer since 2004. He also created and maintains our current website. After a career spanning engineering, administration, business and sales, he retired from paid employment in 2018. That gives him more time not only for Natalya’s Fund but also for church initiatives, writing, music and walking, in addition to the essential activities of DIY, gardening, and looking after their small orchard. He has a passion for giving, in faith and experience that God is the ultimate, loving provider.
As Chris is now largely retired as an archivist, she has more time to pursue her own historical research - on a variety of topics, as well as local and family history, and to help other people with their research. She also enjoys both sewing and gardening, and says, “It is such a positive feeling to create (or mend) clothes, and to eat our home-grown fruit and veg. It is wonderful to be so self-sufficient and it really spurs me on to help youngsters, less fortunate, to learn how to be self-sufficient.”
Heather Thornton is married to Ben, and the daughter of Andrew and Chris, therefore Natalya’s older sister. She lives in Hereford and is a peripatetic music teacher in the county. She regularly plays the flute and piccolo in local orchestras as well as at her church. She enjoys walking, both in and around Herefordshire, and doing long distance trails.
Rohan attended Anglican church while growing up. She taught at primary level in London for 7 years, with additional responsibility for music. She married Richard in 1979, and they spent 13 years in Africa, living in Liberia, Kenya, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. They travelled widely, Richard working as an agronomist and Rohan teaching; they saw examples of both good and bad charity work from the UK. Leaving Africa in 1992 with 3 daughters, they moved to Wales, where they now live on a holder farm outside Abergavenny. She taught deaf children for 13 years, and in 2007 became a Quaker.