Thanks given to ‘visionary philanthropist’ Bishop

Bishop Graham at the Norfolk Community Foundation celebration event. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Bishop Graham at the Norfolk Community Foundation celebration event. Photo: Geraldine Scott - Credit: Geraldine Scott

'Together Norfolk shines brighter.'

That was the message at a celebration event of a major Norfolk charity last night, as the man who started it was thanked for his commitment.

The Rt Revd Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich, set up the Norfolk Community Foundation in 2005 and along with Richard Jewson, HM Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, is the charity's joint patron.

But after nearly two decades serving the Diocese of Norwich Bishop Graham announced he would be retiring earlier this year, and moving back to his native Cornwall.

Last night, Norfolk's great and good gathered at St Andrew's Hall, in Norwich, to thank Bishop Graham but also reflect on the work of the foundation since 2005.

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Speaking about the charity's beginnings Bishop Graham said: 'In those early days people would ask me 'what are you raising money for?' and I would say we want a big charity to help small groups and organisations.'

He said: 'I ended up saying more than 80pc of charity giving in this country goes to just 3pc of charities. It means a huge number of deserving local and regional groups find it hard to get funding.'

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Since it began, the foundation has invested £25m making Norfolk a better place.

Bishop Graham said: 'That's because we want to be here for good. In a world where plans policies are so short term most of the time, a community foundation is ambitious.'

Bishop Graham was thanked by the foundation's chief executive Claire Cullens as well as chairman Henry Cator OBE.

Mr Cator, a former High Sheriff of Norfolk, said: '[Bishop Graham] has given unconditional love and support and that is something which is hugely humbling for the rest of us. Let us be clear, the Norfolk Community Foundation may never have existed if it had not been for your vision.'

He added it was Bishop Graham's 'vision, courage and commitment' that led to the organisation being what it was today.

He said: 'I believe you can be called a visionary philanthropist. So we will be forever grateful for your stewardship.'

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