RABI is farming's national charity, operating throughout England and Wales. Our central operations are based in Oxford, with regional officers in both the welfare and fundraising departments working at local level. Invaluable support is given by teams of volunteers in each county.
RABI is a member of Farming Help and works closely with other support agencies.
Our sister charity RSABI helps those in need in Scotland.
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) was founded in 1860 by John Joseph Mechi. In the mid-1800s a group of Essex farmers had become concerned about the level of poverty within the farming community and the absence of an official body to represent them.
In 1859, John Mechi wrote to The Times to rally support for the founding of a benevolent institution that would seek funds and distribute them to the needy. By 1860, he had received responses from 700 noblemen, gentlemen, farmers and implement makers and donations amounting to 1,700 guineas. Annual subscriptions of 410 guineas were pledged by 450 of the 700 founders who enrolled.
A grant structure was established that entitled the needy to £40 per annum for married couples and 1.5 tons of coal; £26 per annum for single males and 1.5 tons of coal; £20 per annum for females and 1 ton of coal, all payable weekly. Children were to be fed, clothed and educated.
By the end of 1861, the Institution had awarded 'pensions' totalling
In its earliest years, the number of applicants far outweighed available funds, but as support gathered pace, by the mid-1930s, RABI was maintaining 1,000 pensioners at an annual cost of £32,000. In recognition of its work, a Royal Charter was granted by King George V at a reception to mark the charity's 75th anniversary in 1935.
In 1999 the Charter was amended to include farm workers and their families. At the end of 2001 RABI was nominated as one of five charities for HM The Queen's Golden Jubilee Year.
Pictured here is a newly-produced version of RABI's Royal Charter and By-Laws, which we received in January 2012. These have been updated recently and agreed by HM The Queen's Privy Council, to better reflect the needs of the charity in the 21st century.
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