The Ragged Trouser Philanthropist

I have been inspired my Grandfather for most of my life, to the extend that I´m setting up a charity to continue the legacy of which I talk about with Angelika from the Salzburger Nachricten.  On June 3rd at 05.30 in the morning Ernest White died in his sleep.  He was someone who had the energy of a hundred men.  He spent his life entertaining the masses first in the music halls as a young boy with his father in a duet "Pearly White and The Little Nipper" and in charity events across Britain, never favouring a single one; Red Cross, Save The Children, Cancer Research, The Ileostomy Society were among the many.  Media would call him regularly to be a spokesperson for these charities out of his goodwill, never asking for a penny, on the radio, and he would entertain endlessly as he peppered serious issues with anecdotes.
  He was always someone who brought communities together with his open heart and mind and his gift for bringing people together despite their differences.  His philanthropic work before I was born was extensive.  One of the stories that I loved to listen to was how when my grandmother first started to go out with her hat filled with plumed Ostrich feathers, mimicking the decadence of ladies of leisure at the turn of the century.  They went out in every kind of weather, come rain or shine, and everything they collected went to the charities--everything.

  They did not take any money even for travel expenses.  This kind of philanthropy, which is almost non-existent these days, my grandfather did with passion, whilst keeping his shop and then later travelling around; I guess today he would be called a true patron.

 His suit that he wore, was completely covered in pearl buttons, so heavy that I don`t know how he moved with ease.  Never showing the strain, he would walk his walk and talk his talk at Charity events, always the character and the life and soul bringing awareness to little known charities like COPE and LOROS before the public eye.  He was a celebrity of the communities he represented, before the idea of celebrities and charities existed. 
      He first represented the community he came from, supporting the traders in the east end of London who became ill from the dirt and rampant poverty and raising money for new hospital beds before the NHS , so that more of these traders could be treated for the TB that spread through these parts.  His sister Jessie, whom I was named after, fell victim to TB by extending her generosity to those victims and finally ending her days at 18 in the same way.  His entertaining voice breaking out in "Any Old Iron" and cockney rhyming slang...."go up the apples and pears to bed, " kept hopes high when times were hard in the music halls at the time and later across the UK as well as the wide-eyed children at my primary school, who`d never seen such a “pearly white” sight.  My Pearly Grandad will go out to "Doing the Lambeth Walk" on the 16th June 2011 but the bright torch that he lit will shine the way in my life for so many others, that will continue burning brightly for many years to come.    


      


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