Almost a century ago, a man called Barrow Cadbury and his wife set up an organisation called the Barrow Cadbury Trust. Based in Birmingham, the Trust’s work, inspired by the Cadburys’ Quaker faith, centred on social justice issues, looking after Cadbury employees and the housing needs of the people of the city.

The organisation’s role expanded over the years and by the 1990s, it turned its attention to peace building, with a particular interest in this part of the world. Due to the interest of the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the endowment it gave to Fermanagh, the Fermanagh Trust was formed. This week it marked 20 years since it started, having grown grown well beyond its original beginnings.

The Fermanagh Trust began with four local trustees, whose job was to go around the county visiting projects and giving small grants, which could be used as a lever to access other funding. As one of the original Trustees, Joanna McVey, said: “It is extraordinary what we can do with small amounts of money”. An application from a community group in one village would invariably lead to another from the playgroup or the youth group and as a result, the Fermanagh Trust soon got to know the community and voluntary sector in Fermanagh very well indeed. The Trust’s role developed, undertaking research into community development across the county, and acting on it.

It has taken on a lobbying role. Its development of shared education in this county has seen government putting shared education into the mainstream.

Its evolution as a community foundation has seen its involved in a range of awards schemes for young musicians and sportspeople.

And as the work of the Trust changes, so too does its base. Fermanagh House, home to nine charities and used by 50 organisations, is to expand with contractors expected on site before Christmas.

A celebration of 20 community heroes, one for each year of the Fermanagh Trust’s existence, at an event this week at the Ardhowen Theatre, provided the opportunity to sing the praises of the unsung heroes across the community. It also gave the opportunity to reflect on the profound effect the Fermanagh Trust is having and has had on the lives of people across this county.

From those little acorns sown two decades ago, a mighty oak has grown.