The Thomson Charitable Trust toasts milestone

By Gordon Bannerman


The Thomson Charitable Trust is toasting two major milestones.  

Hard on the heels of its 50th anniversary, a £9,000 grant to Perth Festival of the Arts has taken the total distributed by the family fund past the £2 million mark.   

The trust was formed in 1973 by David Thomson and his nephew Michael, the second and third generation of a family business which grew into Scotland’s leading whisky and wine and spirits distributor before being bought over by Sir Reo Stakis in 1982.   

One-time prisoner of war David, who served as a Perth town councillor and Lord Dean of Guild, and enjoyed two terms as Lord Provost, initially set aside 2500 shares in the business for the charitable trust, with Michael adding another 500.   

Upon his death in 1992, in his will David left the rest of his substantial shareholdings to the Trust, with investment income to be distributed to a wide variety of charities, local organisations and individuals in Perth and Kinross.   

Accounts record the first grant was £600, and the many hundreds of beneficiaries over six decades include St John’s Kirk, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society at the Fair Maid's House, PKAVS, Loch Tummel Sailing Club, individuals and various village halls.   

Michael has welcomed the latest grant to a cause which has always been close to the hearts of the Thomson family.   

It is appropriate that the £2 million milestone should be passed by support for Perth Festival of the Arts, which has benefited from Trust support every year since 1987 to the tune of a total of £153,000.  

“My uncle helped found the Perth Festival and chaired the committee for many years. He was heavily involved in many other aspects of local life.   

“In addition to six years as Provost, he was chairman of Tayside Health Board, the Scottish Transport Group and Scottish Opera. He was honoured with the Freedom of the City of Perth in 1982.    

“I followed in his footsteps in the business and I have been involved with the Trust from the start. It is remarkable to think that more than £2 million has been distributed over the last 50 years.   

“Today, the 4th generation is involved with my grandson Simon serving as a trustee and my oldest son, Stuart, now chairs the Trust.  

“As a chartered accountant he has had years of experience in the transport business in Scotland and beyond. Under his guidance, Perth will continue to benefit from our family’s legacy for many years to come.”     

Peter Thomson (Perth) Ltd was established in 1908 when the founder set up on his own having previously been a partner with his brother Alexander in the grocery store in Perth's Old High Street, where large enamel signage has survived on a wall high above the thoroughfare.   

In 1972, the expanding business relocated from King Edward Street to a site on the Crieff Road.   

“I joined the family business after qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1962 and saw it go from strength to strength before attracting interest from Sir Reo,” recalled Michael, a past Lord Dean of Guild and the last to serve as a non-elected representative on Perth Town Council in 1975.   

“Our delivery vehicles covered the whole of Scotland and in addition to selling our own Beneagles Scotch Whisky we were exclusive agents for major brands like Beefeater Gin, Borzoi Vodka, Bertola Sherry and many table wines along with The Macallan long before it became the iconic malt it has become.   

“Perth, of course, was once the whisky capital of the world, with Bell’s, Dewar’s, The Famous Grouse and Curry’s all based in the city, along with Peter Thomson Beneagles - now perhaps best known for the extensive range of Beneagles Ceramics ranging from miniature curling stones and the Loch Ness Monster to the bottle size golden eagle.”