Skip Main Navigation

Our values

We seek to support organisations that share and reflect our values


Supporting and implementing best practice


Operating with ambition, inspiration and determination.


Acting responsibly, respectfully, reflectively and transparently


Empowering stakeholders to deliver a legacy

Our history

Peter Harrison was a self-made man. Having achieved great success in business, he established the Foundation in April 1999. The following year, the Harrison family trusts gave the charity a capital endowment of £30 million funded from the proceeds of the sale of Peter’s computer networking business. In 2010, the family trust contributed a further £15 million to the Foundation. With the goal of preserving the value of this capital for future grantmaking, the Foundation annually distributes approximately £1.5 million for charitable purposes.  

Initially the Foundation had four Trustees: Peter Harrison (Chairman); Joy Harrison (Peter’s wife); Julia Harrison-Lee (daughter of Peter and Joy) and Peter Lee (son-in-law of Peter and Joy). Joy Harrison passed away in 2012. Nick Harrison (son of Peter and Joy) joined the board in May 2013. Peter Harrison died in 2021. 

Our Founder

Peter Harrison KGCN CBE (1937-2021)

Peter Harrison, born in Cheadle, Cheshire, was the son of a Manchester bus driver father and a seamstress mother. Despite leaving school at 16, Peter went on to qualify as a chartered accountant. In the early stages of his business career, Peter held positions at the Ford Motor Company, Firth Cleveland, and Crest Nicholson Group PLC.

In 1978, Peter acquired Chernikeeff, a company within the Crest Nicholson group, and served as its Chair and Chief Executive. Under his leadership, Chernikeeff evolved into the largest privately held computer networking company in the UK. In 1999/2000, Peter divested his and his family’s shares in Chernikeeff to Dimension Data Holdings Plc of South Africa and established the Foundation with the proceeds.

Beyond his business endeavours, Peter was a passionate sailor, former rugby player, and devoted Chelsea fan. He firmly believed in the transformative power of sports as a catalyst for self-development and self-reliance. Consequently, the Foundation supports projects that encourage participation in physical activity among those who face physical, mental, economic or social barriers, recognising the life-enhancing opportunities that it can provide.

In 2003, Peter sponsored and led a British challenge for the America’s Cup, marking the first participation in 14 years. Additionally, he served as a Vice-President of Chelsea Football Club. In recognition of Peter’s charitable work, in 2010 Peter was made Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in HM The Queen’s Birthday Honours List. In 2013, acknowledging his philanthropic contributions to Antigua and Barbuda, he was knighted (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Nation) by Her Excellency Dame Louise Lake-Tack, former Governor General.

Peter passed away on June 18, 2021, but his legacy endures through the Foundation’s continued embodiment of his generous spirit.

Our current grantmaking

Open grant programmes

The Foundation currently has two grant programmes that are open to applications – Active Lives and Positive Futures

Trustees’ discretionary grantmaking

The Trustees are also able to support projects that are of particular interest to them. As part of this programme, the Trustees fund bursary places at Reigate Grammar School for children who would otherwise be unable to attend. 

The Trustees do not invite applications to this programme.

Grantmaking spend by programme

Below is a summary of how the Foundation has spent its grant funds over the last 3 years. You can find more information about our grant making in our annual report and accounts.


* Please note that the restricted fund grants in this period include a number of grants which were made in memory of our late Founder Peter Harrison, in accordance with his known interests. 


Previous major grant initiatives

Whilst PHF no longer funds large scale initiatives, we remain tremendously proud of the Foundation’s early support for projects that continue to have a lasting impact on the lives of those who face physical, mental, social, or economic challenges, enabling them to realise their full potential. Significant initiatives include: 

The Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, Loughborough

The Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport (PHCDS) is located at the world-renowned Loughborough University which is ranked as the world’s number one University for sport-related academia by the QS Rankings. PHCDS contributes significantly to research and practice in disability sport. It consists of two main research strands: Sport Performance and Health and Wellbeing. The mission of the Centre is to improve knowledge about Paralympic sport and to promote the substantial health and quality of life benefits that can be gained through participation in disability sport and physical activity. The centre is heavily involved in research, in addition to providing sport science support to several GB squads.

British Paralympic Association

ParalympicsGB is responsible for selecting, preparing, entering, funding and managing the GB team at the summer and winter Paralympic Games. The Peter Harrison Foundation’s funding has supported activities at the Athens games and the winter games in Turin the provision of the medical team at the Beijing games, as well as the GB performance and medical Centres in Rio and Tokyo. In 2020, ParalympicsGB were supported at the Tokyo Games by the Paralympic Performance Centre, enabled by a grant from the Peter Harrison Foundation. The Paralympic Performance Centre brings together the leading experts in sports science and sports medicine to work collaboratively in a bespoke medical centre. The Paralympic Performance Centre is widely acknowledged as a critical part of delivering optimal performance.

The Harrison Centre at Reigate Grammar School

Reigate Grammar School in Surrey is a co-educational day school for children aged 11-18 with over 1000 students. Alongside consistently excellent exam results, the school’s emphasis on pastoral care aims to set young Reigatians up to be happy, healthy and high achieving. The Harrison Centre, established with the support of the Peter Harrison Foundation, is a state of the art Sixth Form Centre which includes a library and learning resource centre and private study areas, as well as a café and social space.

Peter Harrison Planetarium at the National Maritime Museum

The Peter Harrison Planetarium is a 120-seat digital laser planetarium, situated in Greenwich Park, London. The project to establish a planetarium at the Royal Observatory Greenwich captured Peter’s imagination, bringing together his career in new technologies, a love of learning and a fond childhood memory of his scout master’s lessons on celestial navigation. It opened on 25 May 2007, funded by the Peter Harrison Foundation.

Over 200,000 people, including many school parties, visit the Planetarium and its Learning Centre each year.