Corinne Vigreux is an entrepreneur who is passionate about technology, design and innovation. As co-founder of TomTom and current managing director of its consumer division, she has made considerable contributions to the establishment of a global brand. Corinne’s other passion is improving social mobility by enabling and supporting young talent to reach their full potential regardless of background or lack of opportunity. This passion led to the creation of the Sofronie Foundation.
As the founder and chair trustee of the Sofronie Foundation, Corinne brought together a small group of dedicated individuals who all shared the same vision of improving social mobility. This board now selects programmes for young people with limited opportunity and provides resources that offer skills, knowledge and the access to realise their ambitions. Successful interventions at key stages for these young people have shown that they can turnaround their lives and overcome adversity to achieve their aims.
Corinne has received special recognition for her contribution to society by the French government in 2012 when she was appointed the “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur” and royally appointed by the Netherlands in 2016 when the TomTom team were awarded the Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Sofronie was the name of my great grandmother. She was born in 1878 in a small village in Normandy.
In search of a job, she went to Rouen at the age of 14 with her brother where she found work in a textile factory. It was not until 1928 at the age of 50 when she finally met the man she married, Georges Fournier.
Mr Georges Fournier was my great grandfather. He was a widower with 5 children: Marguerite 14 (who died in 1928 a couple of months before their wedding), Georges 13, Lucienne 8 (my grandmother), Yvonne 7 and Denise 5.
Five years later, Georges Fournier also passed away leaving Sofronie to care for all of his children as the war years loomed ahead. With very little means at her disposal, she carried on working in the textile factory whilst raising the 4 remaining children on her own.
Lucienne (my grandmother) was 20 when she gave birth to my father in May 1940, but the ravages of war were soon to take her away and she died at the age of 23 from tuberculosis. During that time, my grandfather was also taken but as a prisoner of war.
This left my father alone and he was promptly entrusted to the care of Sofronie until the end of the war.
She was there to welcome my father again aged 8 when he ran away from his father’s new partner. He was to stay there until his 12th birthday.
As in many families there are people about whom stories are told because they stand out and have left their imprint on the family history. All my life, I have heard stories about Sofronie; the stepmother and step grandmother to whom everybody came to and took refuge with – the small lady with small means but a big heart that everybody spoke so fondly of.
This lady had independently cared for all of these stepchildren and step grandchildren who had come her way and done so genuinely and lovingly with so little!
So when I was looking for a name for this foundation, ‘Sofronie’ felt like an obvious choice. This foundation was going to embody the spirit of Sofronie, supporting as best it can, children that are orphaned, abandoned, denied access to education and stable family environments or very simply love and affection.
This is how we are chiefly directing the projects we are funding as you will see from the list of charities we support.
Our aim is to support organisations that offer children opportunities, so they too will have a chance to stand on their own two feet, become educated, raise families and change the course of their own lives, their children’s and maybe even other's.
We know that not all children are dealt the same cards at birth and so we wish to support other ‘Sofronies’ out there, wherever they may be.