Tuesday, 4 September 2012

127: An Extraordinarily Big Board Meeting

A most remarkable thing happened today, something that warms the heart and makes you believe in magic.  I hardly know where to start the tale, it is so fantastical.  The minutes of the meeting report the occurrence but not the effect it will have for us all.

As you know, the hospital board has been fundraising to buy a parcel of land so the new wing building may begin.  Without this expansion of space, there will be so many children we cannot help.  The land is available and we have made the correct approaches, but there remains a deficit in funding we are struggling to fill.

An approach has been made of late to J M Barrie, in the hopes he would agree to join our fundraising committee.  The members felt Mr Barrie’s fame might attract a large number of donations.  He indicated he is unable to devote sufficient time at present, but we do still hope his very association with our hospital may attract benefactors.

During the meeting today, various fund raising suggestions were made, most of the type usually suggested.  A royal gala ball.  Securing famous endorsements who might appeal to others to financially support us.  A fundraising dinner.  Each would be helpful, each making up a small portion of the shortfall.

In my role as clerk to the hospital board, I report on correspondence received by the hospital and unusually, I received an urgent late communication delivered by hand to the board room directly.  I slit open the heavy cream cloth envelope and slid out a single folder sheet of paper, worked in delicate penmanship.

I am unable to divulge the letter’s exact wording outside of the meeting, but it was a bequest.  An exceedingly handsome bequest, one which should provide funding enough to buy the land, build the new wing and equip it with the best medical equipment the 1930s will provide.  It is our Mr Barrie who has stepped in as our hero.

Do you know of his children’s book about a boy who wouldn’t grow up, Peter Pan?  And the similarly titled play of the story?  Mr Barrie has made over all rights to the work, to all performances and royalties, to this hospital.  Think of the income this will generate and the children we can help, in his name.  The board were uproarious and we adjourned the meeting to make arrangements to convey him our thanks.

There was just one curious request from Mr Barrie.  He asked that upon accepting his offer, the entire board should spend a few minutes a day perfecting what he called “ear waggling.”  A small price for such generosity, I’m sure.

Inspiration: JMBarrie and Great Ormond Street Hospital

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