A LEGACY fund to support charities, voluntary organisation and community groups has been launch by Harwich's future mayor.

Lifelong Harwich resident Ivan Henderson, who has devoted almost 30 years to public service, has set up the Mayflower Legacy Fund.

The fund has been named after the Mayflower Ship, which was captained by former Harwich resident Christopher Jones, and sailed the Pilgrim Father's to America 400 years ago.

Despite this year's Mayflower 400 celebrations being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Henderson's hope of establishing a fund to support local charities has become a reality.

Mr Henderson, who is a former Harwich MP and current county councillor for the town, launched the fund with £10,000 - an allocation given to all county councillors to invest in their communities.

He said: “I wanted to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Master Christopher Jones' sea voyage aboard the Mayflower and to create something that will support local charities and will last beyond the anniversary year.

“It is a shame that many of the anniversary celebrations can't take place in 2020, but some have been postponed until next year."

The £10,000 and further donations will be match-funded through the Proceeds of Crime Matched Funding Scheme, which is managed by Essex Community Foundation with support from Essex Police.

This means that for every £2 donated, £1 will be added.

He added: “The fund will have a link to the ongoing maritime history of Harwich and, importantly, will build up over time and create a legacy that will support and benefit local people for years to come.

“There are so many local organisations who have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and they really need extra support. A lot of children and young people will be facing difficult issues and the fund will help them and enable them in turn to become involved and make a positive contribution to their community.”

Mr Henderson was due to become Mayor of Harwich in May this year, but, because of the pandemic, this has been postponed until May of next year.

Meanwhile, councillor Alan Todd remains in office as Mayor of Harwich and he is fully supportive of Ivan's initiative in setting up the Mayflower Legacy Fund.

He said: “The Fund is a great initiative that will have a lasting benefit for the town and local area. I hope it will gain a lot of support.”

Mr Henderson added: “I am looking forward to becoming Mayor of Harwich for the first time next year and, once I take office, all my Mayoral fundraising will go into the Mayflower Legacy Fund.

"I am hoping to encourage businesses and individuals to regularly contribute and have already had support committed from Milsom Hotels and Harwich Haven Authority."

For more information visit his justgiving.com/fundraising/harwichmayflower400legacyfund.