A Brief History of the John and Lucille van Geest Foundation
The John and Lucille van Geest Foundation has played a vital role in funding medical research since it was first established in 1976 as The John van Geest Charitable Fund.
The Foundation has given significant grants to a number of medical research charities including leading Universities particularly in the fields of Brain Damage (particularly related to Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Strokes etc.) Cancer, Heart Disease, Lung Disease and Sight and Hearing loss.
It has also provided welfare grants to charities providing for those in need through illness, infirmity or social circumstances - primarily aimed at the elderly and children residing in South Lincolnshire and immediately adjoining areas. It has occasionally made grants to charities assisting victims of natural and man-made disasters
The Foundation was established as a grant making charity by a Trust Deed in 1990 by John van Geest (CBE) and Lucille van Geest (MBE) when it absorbed the funds of The John van Geest Charitable Fund. John was born in the Netherlands and came to the UK in the 1930s, along with his brother Leonard, in order to expand the export of Dutch bulbs to Britain. This led to the brothers growing the bulbs themselves in England and setting up Geest Horticultural Products in 1935.
The company underwent a dramatic leap in fortunes in 1954 when John signed the company’s initial banana contract with four of the Windward Islands, agreeing to ship and market the whole of their exportable crops for 10 years. From this, the Geest shipping line was set up and the company rapidly established itself as one of the UK’s major fresh produce distributors, adding to its then extensive horticultural interests.
Upon her death in 2006, Lucille van Geest bequeathed the residue of her estate to the Foundation. John and Lucille’s daughter, Hilary Marlowe, continues as Chair of its Trustees.