The Douglas Scarff Trust donates almost £100,000 to Islington Giving, leaving a legacy of support for young children and families

The Trustees of the now dormant Douglas Scarff Trust have donated £98,374 to Islington Giving. This continues a legacy of support for young children and families.

The story of the Trust begins at North Islington Nursery School in the 1930s, Islington’s first nursery school. The events of the last eighty years provide an inspiring parallel of the efforts of the hundreds of local people who continue to give to Islington each year.

Community connections

Britain’s first sitting female MP, Lady Astor, inspired Daisy Lynn (a member of the Caledonian Road Wesleyan Chapel) to write to her in 1930. Lady Astor MP, who had proclaimed that nursery schools perform “the most constructive work in the world today”, replied with a cheque. This became the first donation, added to by the Church committee, that helped establish North Islington Nursery School. Lady Astor would become the school’s first president.

Local resident Mr Douglas Scarff volunteered as Honorary Treasurer of the nursery. He helped to bring in new donations such as £750 from the Margaret McMillan, the social pioneer. The same Margaret McMillan gives her name to the nursery school on Hornsey Rise. Following damage inflicted by heavy bombing in the Second World War, local residents and businesses restored the nursery. In 1948, Clement Attlee’s Minister of Education, George Tomlinson, laid the foundation stone for the rebuilding of the school. It was officially reopened in 1949, by H.R.H Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester.

Historic examples of giving

The history of the nursery is marked by other examples of giving. The grand-daughter of one of its founders helped care for wartime evacuees. In the 1960s, thanks to the nursery’s cosmopolitanism and some high-profile supporters, the BBC and ITV made a short film about its Christmas play, helping to raise vital funds. In 1965, Joyce Grenfell (Lady Astor’s niece) took the role of President following Lady Astor’s death in 1964. You can hear Joyce’s famous “Nursery School” sketch below:

Now run by Islington Council, North Islington Nursery and Children’s Centre continues to provide inclusive care for local children aged 3 months to 5 years old.

The Douglas Scarff Trust made grants to improve the lives of young children in Islington. We will continue to honour this legacy.

How you can give to Islington

Islington Giving works with people, like the Douglas Scarff Trustees, who live in, work in, and care about their local area. Whether you are thinking of increasing the impact of your Trust, or would like to make a personal donation, you too can make a huge difference to the lives of Islington residents.

Get in touch with Anne Phipps to talk about your giving, via email:, or phone: 020 7288 6941