Helen McCrory was the patron of Sir Hubert Von Herkomer Arts Foundation (HvH Arts in short) a charity that is dedicated to ensuring every child is given a chance to connect with art when funding for the arts is squeezed out of the mainstream curriculum at schools.
A huge believer in that every child should have access to arts, Helen championed the charity starting on day one when it was founded in 2013. We saw her and Damian attending HvH Arts Student Exhibitions and chat with students about their art as well as working the phones on the trading floor to raise funds for the foundation over the years.
Damian participated in the foundation’s graffiti art project in April creating “Neville the Starfish” as part of a street art mural in Hampstead Heathbridge that gave 96 young people an opportunity to express themselves in graffiti art.
The murals feature two steam trains made up of characters and creatures imagined by the children. The steam train carrying “Neville the Starfish” is now called the ‘McCrory Carriage’ and HvH Arts has a message for everyone walking past the mural:
“Every time you walk past this beautiful work of art you can feel the spirit of our beautiful, smiling patron Helen McCrory watching over you and keeping our young ones safe. We particularly love ‘Neville the Starfish’ created by Damian Lewis.”
After Helen passed away, Damian kindly asked us to add HvH Arts to his charities on his fan site because he would now take over as the patron of HvH Arts. The family also kindly asked donations in memory of Helen be made to HvH Arts.
And Debbi Clark, the CEO of Sir HvH Arts Foundation and Helen’s close friend, penned a tribute for her “beautiful one” and announced the ‘McCrory Award.’
“The ‘McCrory Award’ will be dedicated to supporting disadvantaged children and young people who are gifted in their art, yet many do not have access to the resources, the training, the income to support them fulfill their dream. The ‘McCrory Award’ will make their dreams become a reality.”
In June, Damian attended via Zoom the University College School Hampstead’s graduation ceremony – a school that has supported HvH arts with their outreach – and narrated the powerful speech Helen had given to the school’s graduating class in 2018.
2️⃣1️⃣(Bonus!) The annual Speech Day ceremony was replaced this year with group specific prize giving events, but the outgoing 6th Form were treated to something different, a UCS first graduation ceremony which featured actor Damian Lewis as the remote guest of honour. #Paulatim pic.twitter.com/iMBPKLfoMC
— UCS Hampstead (@UCSHampstead) August 13, 2021
You can get more information about Helen’s UCS speech back in 2018 here. In 2016, Damian and Helen attended an art exhibition showcasing UCS student’s artwork, chatting with them as well. You can read more about it here.
Damian joined the Sir HvH Arts Foundation Summer Festival in late August for the ‘Lockdown Exodus’ exhibition that celebrated young people’s work in art, music and photography, and a performance of ‘A Brave New World’ visual arts theatre dance production by talented young artists.
Throughout the day the project hosted taster workshops with their artists in residence in fashion deconstruction, tie-dye, screen printing, oils, acrylics on canvas, and photography. About a hundred families from the community got together to see the musical performances, as well as art and photography produced by the young people who attended free sessions funded by donations as well as by Camden Council.
HvH Arts organized the summer festival to remember their former patron Helen McCrory. Debbi Clark stated that Helen would always be a patron of the charity and was still with them “in spirit” which I believe with all my heart.
Damian was on the trading floor again on BGC Charity Day to raise funds for the Foundation. Speaking to Sky News, Damian talked about Helen being a HvH Arts patron and that it is a cause very close to his heart, too.
“It specializes in working with underprivileged children in North London, mainly in Camden, Kentish Town, giving them experience in the arts, photography, textiles, theater, music. And it is an exposure to the arts, which I believe is so important for young children, but it is also an experience of self-esteem and gives them confidence. That’s a grassroots, very small charity.”
Finally, Damian was there with HvH Arts CEO Debbi Clark to officially open the Helen McCrory Studio Theatre at Francis Holland School Regent’s Park (FHS). The drama studio theatre is in honor of Helen who devoted much time and passion to HvH Arts with with Francis Holland School Regent’s Park being one of the foundation’s main sponsors over the years.
Please please please spread the word about HvH Arts! Visit HvH Arts website for more information. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram. Please SHARE the information. And please donate if you can so young people from underprivileged communities can have a chance to fulfill their potential in the arts. Thank you!