Edith Murphy Foundation

Edith's Story

Edith was born Edith Agnes Sims on 16th May 1916 in central Leicester. Little is known about her early childhood but we do know that she often visited Mablethorpe where the family looked after donkeys used on the local beaches.  It’s probably here that her love for animal welfare developed.

Edith was a woman with exceptional talent. In the days long before women went into business on their own Edith developed a successful caravan business in the Aylestone area of Leicester. She epitomised the motto ‘work hard, play hard’. She was a keen golfer and was Ladies Captain of Birstall Golf Club as well as being an extremely competitive international rally driver.

In 1961 Edith married Hughie Murphy in Dublin. Hughie and his brothers had moved from South Armagh in the 1930s and settled in Leicester. Hughie was co-founder of Murphy Bros. Ltd with his brother Paddy. The Company had a highly respected reputation in Leicester and across the UK with its initial businesses including buying and selling cars, commercial vehicles, motor coaches and contractors’ plant.

In 1961 Charles Street Buildings (Leicester) Limited was incorporated and became the principal property company within Murphy Bros.  It was named after one of the Company’s developments in Charles Street Leicester.

In 1968, all Murphy Bros. businesses engaged in civil engineering, earthmoving, manufacturing and transport were sold.  From then on, the Murphy family concentrated on property development and investment by retaining their property interests and by establishing a rent roll through leasehold properties.  Edith retained an interest in the business as company director and shareholder until her death in 2005.

Edith gave up a lot of her time to public service. She served as parish councillor in her local community of Birstall and eventually became district councillor at Charnwood Borough Council.  She supported her local community by providing land to the Parish Council so that local shoppers could easily park and use the local shops and facilities. Having several pets herself she was always passionate about animals and supported a number of local animal welfare organisations across the county.

When Hughie passed away in 1991 she created the Foundation as a means of preserving their name into the future. During her lifetime the Foundation distributed around £3.7 million in support of other charities across the UK. Naturally, this included animal welfare, but also encompassed ground breaking research into diabetes and kidney disease as well as children’s holiday and respite homes. In 2002 she accepted an honorary fellowship from De Montfort University in Leicester in recognition of her support for their research projects and in 2011 the University’s nursing college was named after her.

On 22nd June 2005 Edith was invested by the Queen as an MBE in recognition of her services to the community of Leicestershire. Sadly she passed away four months later following a series of strokes.

Her memory lives on today through the Foundation and when considering the many applications that are received for support the trustees continually ask themselves “what would Edith do”?