Let IT Go

University of Kent Philanthropy Archive

Dame Stephanie Shirley is the founder donor and first depositor to the UK Philanthropy Archive in the University of Kent library, which will be digitised to enable everyone to access.

As The Shirley Foundation spent out in 2018, Dame Stephanie started to focus on legacy. That is when discussions began with the University of Kent, which resulted in The Shirley Foundation being the first depositor to the UK Philanthropy Archive. As the National Ambassador for philanthropy 2009/10, Dame Stephanie’s contributions align with the university’s established Centre of Philanthropy and add to the general charity resources.

Deposits include financial and project papers relating to the Shirley Foundation, which funded more than £60 million in grants to over 100 strategic projects in the fields of autism and IT, before closing in 2018.

Dame Stephanie’s life and work is also being archived, from her childhood as a Kindertransportee, her education at a boy’s school and the setting up of her company F International, to Giles her profoundly autistic son who was the inspiration for much of her philanthropy in the sphere of autism.

The material will reflect her life’s work and focus, the most interesting and resonant bits, her speeches, everything from bound items, loose materials, photographs, items oversized and undersized.

It is hoped that the University can make Dame Stephanie’s records available for research into the work and impact of philanthropic organisations in the UK. An archive is a trusted resource – with authenticity, accurate representation, integrity and usability.

The UK Philanthropy Archive will record the breadth of UK philanthropy, representing the history, experiences and perspectives of UK philanthropists. It’s going to be a testament to the way life moves forward.

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The word 'inspiring' is greatly overused, but Stephanie Shirley's story is one of those rare cases in which it truly applies. This book is an extraordinary tale of creativity and resilience, and of the power of well-targeted philanthropy to transform the world.
Oliver Burkeman, Guardian journalist and author

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I feel lucky to count myself one of Steve’s friends, and I am so happy that, by sharing her story with us in the pages of this book, she will inevitably acquire many more admirers and fans. We may never be able to achieve a fraction of her success and influence, but the example of her generosity and unflagging attempts to use her hard won fortune to do good will inspire all of us to do just that bit more to leave the world a slightly better place than we found it.
Jane Asher


A wonderful, inspirational, living, breathing life of a book.
Stuart Ongley, SGO Music


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ardent philanthropist at www.steveshirley.com