A BASINGSTOKE charity is celebrating 40 years of helping local causes by handing out a bumper batch of grants this year.

Four Lanes Trust was set up in 1974 and has since given out a staggering £1.2million to 780 different groups.

It was set up by Christopher James Makins, Baron of Sherfield, who set aside a large amount to be spent of worthy local causes in the borough before emigrating to America.

Since then, trustees of the charity have been using the interest from the lump sum to give away around £30,000 a year.

Director Bob Carr said: “The amounts that we give away do depend on the state of the economy to some extent, but we have been able to continue to make grants right through the recession.”

The charity still follows the criteria stipulated in 1974 – that the money be given to people with ideas that will foster or promote the arts, social action or education in the Basingstoke district.

Since its inception, the charity has provided over £270,000 for local arts groups, more than £515,000 for work done in the local voluntary and community sector and more than £351,000 for schemes for in pre-schools, schools and colleges.

Mr Carr said: “The trustees are open to bids for nearly anything – as long as it benefits the community, they will consider it.

“We are lucky that we have been able to support a wide variety of causes over the last 40 years, but we are keen to hear from more groups who may not realise they could be able to get a grant.”

The trustees meet three times a year to distribute grants, and at their June meeting this year, they will take a different approach to celebrate 40 years of giving by offering up to 40 grants of £250 to local groups.

Mr Carr said: “We are hoping that a variety of bids will come in. A community group may need a microwave, a voluntary group may need to update its information leaflet, or a school may want to buy gardening equipment.

“All they need to do is to tell us who they are and what they do, what they plan to buy with the money and who will benefit and send us a copy of their most recent accounts.

“It’s a very simple application process and all bids will be considered. There’s £10,000 on offer, so I’m expecting to be busy.”

To find out how to bid for a grant, visit fourlanestrust.org.uk email bobcarr@fourlt.fsnet.co.uk or call 01256 477990.