The elegant gentleman above is Thomas Coram, eighteenth century sea-going philanthropist and one determined character.
Childless himself, Coram was nonetheless moved by the plight of vast numbers of abandoned babies when he returned from the Americas to London in the early part of the eighteenth century. He campaigned for 17 years – walking probably hundreds of miles around the capital’s streets – until he got what he wanted. That was a safe place where desperate mothers could leave their children. The charity in a different manifestation exists today and you can see its current name – Coram – in the background of the picture above.
This isn’t the place for a potted history of the Foundling Hospital, but I took my inspiration for Reuben from Handel and the many other musicians and artists who played concerts and painted pictures to raise money in support of the Hospital.
When I visited it again this May and took these few pictures, there was a concert in progress. Ever heard wheels of the bus etc played on a grand piano and a classical violin? The concert was of classical music, but it was to an audience of babies and toddlers with their escorts so the sing-along stuff at the end was very much appreciated.
In our own century, there have been anthologies of short stories published to raise money after natural disasters. As I said earlier, I was pleased to offer a little bit of help to the fund-raising effort at St John’s Church.
What charitable stuff have you offered? Anyone abseiled? Walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats? Eaten 100 Scotch pies in one sitting? (Just joking there. Please do not try that at home or anywhere…)