The Somerset Foundation was founded in 2001 by siblings, Peter & Ann Mortifee, in the memory of our father Alfred William Somerset “Bill” Mortifee (1913 – 1998). It came to be through the support of our late mother, Margaret Anderson Mortifee (born Russell; 1921 – 2005) and our sisters Margaret, Mary and Jane. Mum was a kind and generous woman. We carry her spirit with us.
Dad lived a remarkable and adventurous life. Born to farming pioneers in Zululand, South Africa he subsequently graduated from Cambridge University in England as a linguist, being fluent in seven languages. He was a sugar cane farmer, a South African Member of Parliament under Jan Smuts and a successful financial and business entrepreneur. He was a man of honour, integrity and dignity and many are those who quietly benefited from his generosity and pragmatic approach to life. His word was his seal.
Coat of Arms
In 1962, following his application, Alfred William Somerset Mortifee was officially granted a Coat of Arms by the British College of Arms, a branch of the Royal household. This coat of arms is the now the symbol of our Foundation.
The primrose flower depicted was one of his favourites, and is symbolic of enduring love. The green and blue represent land and water respectively, intersected by the wavy lines of the seas and the seagull that inhabited the three continents that Dad lived on. The extensive use of gold, including in the crown, symbolizes generosity. The crest consists of a small blue shield supported by the right claw of a seagull upon a rock. It is adorned with the dogwood of the much appreciated British Columbia where our parents immigrated to in 1956.
The motto, ‘Sagire et Agere’ translates as ‘to seek understanding and take action’. This was typical of Dad’s pragmatic approach to life; it is an approach which is embedded in the way we strive to conduct ourselves through the Somerset Foundation.