BGC 2016 Charity Day at Canary Wharf, London


As well as teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook in Worthing, I am also part of a team who tutor Tim, my friend Sally’s son. When he was a tiny baby and Sally had to return to work, I looked after him for a couple of days a week until he was three and a half, so I was right there alongside the family when they 100_5054received the devastating news that he was autistic. Tim struggled to learn to talk and was still difficult to understand aged five. He regularly retreated into patterning behaviours, often reduced to screaming terror at birds on the grass or a passing lorry.

Sally was fortunate enough to be directed towards John Caudwell’s Children’s 100_5087Charity, who funded Sally and her husband’s training in the Son-Rise programme and have continued to pay for a number of alternative treatments that have transformed Tim’s life over the years. Through the continual hard work 100_5064and skilled empathy of his parents and a number of helpers, Tim is now a bright, chatty boy of fourteen, who loves performing in plays, writing screenplays and making films. He is also a talented composer and plays the piano, picking up tunes by ear. We are in the process of preparing him for exams to allow him to attend college and study media with a view to becoming a fully independent meandchrishollinsadult – a goal that would have been unthinkable only a handful of years ago.

The BGC Charity Day was born out of the horror of 9/11, when the trading bank lost 658 employees, as well as 61 other brokers working on their premises. The bank decided to mark the anniversary by donating all the profits made that day to a charity to support the dependents left behind and over the years this has 100_5061expanded to embrace a number of other charities. The Caudwell Children’s Charity is one of them, and Sally, Erik and Tim were invited to attend to represent the charity and take part in the day’s events at their London HQ. As Erik was unable to go, Sally asked me to come along, instead.

The atrium was decorated with scenes from Roald Dhal books and lined with a variety of enjoyable activities like table tennis, which Tim particularly enjoyed. There was a selection of food, including delicious vegetarian wraps, tea, coffee, water and soft drinks available throughout the 100_5069day – as well as the most magnificent chocolate fountain I’ve ever seen. We were taken up to the trading floor at intervals with a number of celebrities, who then helped the traders to close deals amid a flashing onslaught of photo opportunities and a filmed interview with John Bishop.

The views from the building were stunning – Tim commented that everyone 100_5068below us looked like toys. I enjoyed meeting Chris Hollins, being a Strictly fan. Lindsey Lohan remembered Tim from the Butterfly Ball and spent a significant amount of time talking to children and parents. Tim was delighted to be photographed with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and GB gold medal-winner in the canoe slalom, Joe Clarke, who allowed Tim to try on his medal.

While we often hear how pampered and spoilt the rich and famous are, I was struck by the patience and friendliness of all the celebrities who appeared throughout the day. It was a reminder in a world where greed and selfishness seem to abound and horrible, senseless acts of attrition occur that there are also many, many people who strive not just to help themselves, but go out of their way to also support others. Thank you John Caudwell and BGC, without your generosity Tim’s future would be a whole lot bleaker.

15 responses »

  1. Wow. What an amazing event and an incredible charity. I have a cousin whose youngest son (about Tim’s age, I think) is autistic, and while he’s made strides in some areas, he never comes to parties or holiday events because he still struggles with noise and large crowds. So I’m familiar with the range of severity and symptoms, and it’s inspiring to know from your perspective how Tim has grown and become so highly functioning. Thank you for sharing his story with us. 🙂

    • Thank you, Sara. You’ll also know the amount of time, effort and patience that is needed to help someone in Tim’s situation. And even then, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is successful – so I’m very aware how fortunate he has been and continues to be. My heart goes out to your young second cousin and I hope that he, too, continues to progressl

  2. Always good to hear a good news story – and here there are three Tim’s progress is inspiring, but so is the knowledge that financial companies are not just “in it for the money” (and I work in financial services, so I know that some of them are). The icing on the cake is when famous people – often so remote from our worlds – demonstrate that they are just human too. Must have been a great day and a great experience for you, Sally and Tim.

    • Thank you Graeme – you’re absolutely right! I was very impressed at how much effort the bank had put into the whole day, from the activities laid on in the atrium and the delicious food, to how friendly and kind the traders were to the groups who wandered through the trading floor. And given, what a hot, frenetic day it was – I was also extremely impressed at the aplomb and patience demonstrated by every single celebrity who I saw.

  3. What a wonderful post! So good to find put about positive stories. Tim sounds like a wonderful young man with a supportive families and friends.

    (I made a comment on your Connie Willis review, but may have been signed in to my other blog. Wanted to let you know Jan is the same as notes from a readerholic if it doesn’t show up that way in that comment…lol. I’m commenting using my cell phone as we drive and not always figuring it out!)

    • Thank you Jan. It was definitely an uplifting experience and you’re right – Tim is a wonderful young man, so kind and gentle and a delight to teach.

      Thank you for your heads-up regarding your alter ego – and don’t I know the issue regarding phones! I spend the huge majority of my time tapping away at my desktop and am reasonably handy with the technology I use, but having just spent a week-end away, I find myself reduced to spluttering fury at how DIFFERENT smartphones are to operate!

  4. What a wonderful day! My autistic former student just taught my class as a guest lecturer and did a wonderful job. He did a beautiful powerpoint on the basics of APA documentation and even gave as good as he got to the heckling me and another former student, who came for support, gave him. Way to go!

  5. It’s such a great, positive story. Thank you for sharing it. It’s nice to read something like that in the flood of negativity that seems to plague the Internet.

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