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Philanthropy advisor to the Royal Family on giving and grief, Nicola Brentnall


Ajaz.org CEO Nicola Brentnall joins Purposely Podcast to share her story and the joy she gets from philanthropy and advising charities inspired and run by the British Royal Family.


She talks about the recent loss of her dear husband Tom from cancer and dealing with the daily challenge of grief, ‘it can hit you out of nowhere’. Tom had a passion for Nicola’s work, and he would often travel with her (at his own expense) to see the charitable projects in person.

Nicola discusses the affinity she felt with marginalised young people and how this inspired her 14-year career with the Prince’s Trust. Using her skills to help the team inspire young people to be the best they could be and achieve their full potential. Nicola worked as a strategy and governance consultant to The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation and for The Prince’s Trust, as Company Secretary.


Leaving the Prince’s Trust Nicola received ‘a phone call out of nowhere’ outlining an opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to advise and direct the Royal Family on a ‘spend down programme’ donating £35 million to good causes over a 4-year period through


The Queen’s Trust. These funds had been raised in a single year in the 1970’s and a decision was made to run a giving programme to help young people in need. Major recipients of the funds include the charity ‘Onside’ supporting the building of youth centres providing an inclusive space for young people in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the UK (see more details below). Nicola also led the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust for five years and dramatically furthered its reach and relevance to the communities it served across the world. A qualified Chartered Secretary, she has an MSc in Corporate Governance and Ethics, and a degree in The History of Art.


Nicola was awarded an MVO. Nicola is also a Trustee of BEAT (a nationwide charity supporting people affected by eating disorders) and Opera North.


Onside Youth Zones - explained:


Their mission is to empower young people to lead positive, fulfilling lives by providing access to incredible spaces and exceptional youth work, delivered by outstanding people, where they are needed the most.


To achieve this, they fund, build, launch and support a national network of state-of-the-art, multimillion-pound Youth Zones in the UK’s most economically disadvantaged areas. The Youth Zones are staffed by skilled and dedicated youth workers who truly believe in young people – helping them see what they could achieve, and giving them the skills, confidence and ambition to go for it.


Over 128 years ago, Bolton Lads and Girls Club BLGC was one of the first organisations in the North West of England to recognise the importance of providing young people with a safe haven to spend their free time.


In 2006, serial entrepreneur, Bill Holroyd was approached by officials from BLGC to chair the Club’s Board. Bill willingly took on the role and realised very quickly that other towns and cities in the country would clearly benefit from a first class facility like Bolton. It was this vision that inspired Bill to develop the charity, OnSide Youth Zones and spearhead the development of the Youth Zone ‘model’ across the country.


BLGC are one of the largest youth clubs in the United Kingdom, with a membership of over 3,500 young people. Based in Bolton’s town centre, BLGC are open 7 days a week, 51 weeks a year and welcome all young people aged 8 to 19 years old (up to 21 for young people with disabilities).


BLGC offer a range of targeted and universal provisions including sports, arts, mentoring and community outreach work.