Winifred Tumim

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Biographical Information

Winifred Tumim (died in 2009) "By the 1990s Tumim was already a formidable figure in the charity world.... It was a problem that was disturbing both the Charity Commission and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the umbrella group for national charities. Together they set up in 1992 a joint taskforce under Tumim to examine the role of trustees. This showed that two-thirds were completely unaware of their duties or liabilities. By this time, as the chair (1985-92) of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf, Tumim had already created a much admired management model that fused together professional expertise with voluntary commitments. The subsequent Tumim report helped spread the practice much wider.

"This success led to her to become a highly successful chair of the NCVO between 1996 and 2001, for the last three years of which she chaired the NCVO's charity law reform working group. As the wife of a former county court judge, Sir Stephen Tumim, she was aware of how much resistance within the legal and charity world there would be. The principle of charity law still rested on a preamble to an act passed 400 years before. With her unflagging energy, persistence and readiness to take on even the most formidable opponents, she was the ideal chair. The taskforce concluded that a complete overhaul was both needed and achievable. The report was fed through to Downing Street's strategy unit, which had begun to review the role of charities and concurred. Its report in 2002 led to the 2006 Charities Act.

"Tumim was born into an affluent county family in Essex. Her family were international meat merchants. Her father, Colonel Borthwick, ran unsuccessfully as a Tory candidate in the 1945 general election. Tumim never lost her cut-glass accent but transcended her background, running unsuccessfully as an SDP candidate in Wantage, Oxfordshire, in the 1983 election.

"She studied philosophy, politics and economics at Lady Margaret Hall College, Oxford, graduating in 1958. While at university, she met her future husband: they were married in 1962 and set up home in a delightful Georgian terraced house in Hammersmith, south-west London. A fiercely loyal couple, they campaigned for progressive reforms on many fronts... Tumim was chair of the Forum on Children and Violence, set up in the aftermath of the murder in 1993 of James Bulger, which campaigned to look at the causes of violence in children in a world where most of the media wanted only retribution. Similarly, she recognised a need for a more rational approach to teenage pregnancy, and from 2000 was chair of the Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy that produced a succession of reports to bring down the UK's frightening rates."[1]

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  1. Guardian Winifred Tumim, organizational web page, accessed May 2, 2012.