Posted: 26 August 2014

Why I’m leaving a gift (audio)

There are many reasons why our supporters leave a gift to The Children’s Society in their will. Perhaps they were once helped by the charity, or have been introduced to our work through their church? But the one thing that remains the same is how grateful we are to everyone who supports us in this special way, because without these gifts we wouldn’t be here.

For Alice Whelan, 83, it was the memories of growing up in London during the 1930s that spurred her to remember the charity in her will. ‘My mother died of cancer when I was just 11 months old,’ Alice explains. ‘I don’t remember Mum but losing her was hard for my older brother John.

Also, be sure to listen to Alice share her recollection in our audio recording.

‘As well as John and me, she left behind five children from a previous marriage. Some were adopted by her parents and sister, another went into service and the two youngest went into a children’s home.’

Making ends meet

Alice’s parents weren’t married – something neither child was encouraged to talk about, not only because of the stigma surrounding illegitimacy at the time, but for fear they could be taken away. This fear also impacted on the family’s finances because her father was reluctant to apply for any means-tested benefits.

‘He would leave home every morning and come back late in the evening,’ says Alice. ‘I thought he was at work but some time later I realised that he was actually looking for work.’

Even though life was hard, Alice feels that she and John were lucky. ‘It have happy memories, like taking the tram from our home in Balham into central London and walking around the city with my father,’ she says.

The lack of money almost had very serious consequences for Alice. She suffered from bouts of bronchitis that would often turn into pneumonia. ‘I knew we were poor because the doctor wasn’t always called when I was sick,’ she says. ‘And there were times when I ended up in hospital.’

Changing times

Strangely, the outbreak of the Second World War brought some happier times for the children. Alice was evacuated to Woodingdean in Sussex, where her health improved, and wartime meant the family’s shortages were normal. ‘It was hard missing out on things,’ says Alice. ‘But when war came everything was rationed so the fact we were poor didn’t matter.’

Alice went on to become a teacher, and settled down with her late husband Ron and their three children in Harwich, Essex. After a lifetime of working with children and young people, Alice’s support for the charity only increased.

‘We had very little growing up and life was difficult, but there was nothing to fear in our home. Well, apart from the bombs falling,’ smiles Alice. ‘But things could have been very different for my brother and me.

‘If young people need support or somewhere to stay where they feel safe, then I’m glad The Children’s Society is there for them. That’s why I’m remembering it in my will.’

How you can donate

Gifts in wills are vital to us, representing a third of our voluntary income. Find out more about leaving a gift or call 0300 303 7000.

By Matt Summers-Sparks - Digital team