February 1, 2015
The Helen Foundation Trustee, Annie Kirk, was invited to visit 10 Downing Street for a special charity reception hosted by the Prime Minister’s wife Samantha Cameron.
Conservative MPs and parliamentary candidates from across the South of England and Wales were asked to find, from within their constituencies, two local charity champions for the event and The Helen Foundation was chosen.
The Helen Foundation is entering its 10th year, having been founded in 2006 following the death in a road accident of actor Helen Kirk. The charity supports the aspirations of young people in the arts throughout Teignbridge, South Devon. In 2014, over 3,000 young people benefited from: arts-based workshops in schools led by professional artists; special projects, working with organisations like the Bath Philharmonia and English Touring Opera; Helen Foundation Awards in schools, presented to the young person who has shown “most endeavor in the arts”; and individual bursaries which support talented and committed young people with challenging family and financial circumstances to achieve their ambitions in the arts.
“Samantha Cameron had clearly done her homework, and asked me about Helen and what had happened …. It was impossible not to briefly refer to the terrible loss in 2009 of their little son Ivan, that was suffered by the Camerons themselves. She spoke of the need to somehow find a way to make a positive come from such a negative; I imagine that her frequent charity receptions such as the one I was attending are a part of her own way of doing just that.
In a short closing speech, Samantha explained that her enjoyment of the “charity champion” hosting was immense, every time. She is constantly impressed by the work done by smaller, lesser-known local charities – and is reminded of not just one, but of 3 charities who were there offering and giving herself, her children and husband such support during the illness and finally of the loss Ivan, their eldest child. And then off she went to supervise homework and bedtime, to gentle applause and muffled cries of “Good Luck!” from some of her audience of “charity champions” and their sponsors.