Our founding story

"What is the use of living, if it not be to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?” - Sir Winston Churchill

The Churchill Fellowship was set up after the death of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965, by a nation grateful for his wartime leadership. It is an educational programme, offering international research opportunities for all UK citizens.

The idea for the Fellowship was developed in the last years of Sir Winston's life and with his approval. In 1965 a nationwide appeal was launched, with donations large and small collected at banks, post offices and door to door. This outpouring of support represented the people’s tribute to a hugely respected Prime Minister.

The Fellowship was established entirely from these public donations and a small government grant. The resulting endowment has allowed us to award 5,800 Churchill Fellowships since then, creating a network of experts and expertise in every sector and region of the UK.

In recent years, we have worked with partners and supporters to develop the Fellowship programme. We welcome conversations about collaboration and support for our work.

In keeping with the original concept, Fellowships are open to all UK citizens, regardless of their background, qualifications or age, and they offer a life-changing opportunity to learn from the world’s experts in every field.

Today there is controversy about aspects of Sir Winston’s life. Many of his views on race are widely seen as unacceptable today, a view that we share. At the same time, he is internationally admired for his wartime leadership in saving Britain and the world from Nazism. We acknowledge the many issues and complexities involved on all sides, but do not accept racism of any kind.

As a forward-looking charity aiming to improve lives throughout the UK, what we take from Sir Winston’s example are values for the future: global learning, public service and, above all, a belief in the potential of all individuals.