In March 2021, The Helen Foundation embarked on its most ambitious fundraiser ever. Its THF40for40 campaign planned to raise £40,000 by late December of this year but supported by over 250 generous donors, the campaign has already broken through the initial target within two months of its launch.
Helen’s 40th birthday celebration inspires Arts Recovery Fund
THF40for40 establishes an Arts Recovery Fund to support arts provision in Teignbridge state-funded schools and colleges, as they recover from the significant effects of learning loss this past year. The charity was founded in early 2006 as celebration of the life of 24 year-old Helen Kirk, a classically trained actor working in London, who tragically died following a road accident on Boxing Day, 2005. Each year, The Helen Foundation offers subsidies to every Teignbridge state school, to engage professional artists to work with its students. Helen would have been 40 in March 2021. This coincided with the charity trustees’ awareness of the strong need for extra support for the arts, as eventually schools returned after successive Covid-19 lockdowns. Hence the urgency of a new funding appeal to its supporters – the THF40for40. Trustees realise how important the visual and performing arts are to youngsters. For many, they are essential in developing creativity, fostering renewed self-confidence and overall well-being after such a long period when anxiety and loss of feelings of self-worth are symptomatic of the disruption they have experienced.
Supermassive contribution from MUSE
Among The Helen Foundation’s Honorary Patrons are the three members of Muse, who knew Helen personally through her brother Tom Kirk who remains a close friend since their schooldays in Teignmouth, and continues to work alongside the band as a live director and content creator. When Helen died, the members of Muse offered their backing to the charity set up in her name and have remained staunch supporters ever since. Recognising the importance of all the arts provision in schools, they agreed to sponsor Tom in his own THF40for40 challenge which began on Helen’s actual 40th birthday. His self-chosen challenge was a 40-day one, to walk at least 4 miles and to undertake a strenuous 40-minute exercise regime every day for 40 days, all to be recorded on a fitness tracking app.
Muse offered to donate £100 for each mile of the anticipated 160 miles of his challenge – but in fact Tom ended up traversing 285 miles, and Muse have supermassively donated the full £28,500 to the Arts Recovery fund. That’s almost three-quarters of the original total goal of £40,000 hoped for from supporters across the world!
“The incredible generosity from the Muse guys has absolutely blown me and the other charity trustees away! Knowing the impact their donation would have on local kids motivated me so much throughout the 40-day challenge. The band have always shown amazing support and vision when it comes to what The Helen Foundation does regarding the arts, and yet again Muse have really come through for the charity. So grateful to them and so excited about the benefits and joy their donation will bring!”
The THF40for40 Challenge remains open until the end of 2021, as every penny raised will go towards supporting the arts in Teignbridge schools.