“My Song” – Damian Lewis: The Story of a Photograph and The McCrory Award

“These are kids who otherwise would have no access to the arts and no space in which to express themselves freely, fully and joyfully. It’s brilliant what Debbi and HvH ARTS does. It’s incredible what it achieves. And I’m extremely proud to call myself its Patron.” — Damian Lewis

“My Song” – Damian Lewis by photographer and HvH Arts CEO Debbi Clark

This post is past due.

I bought this photograph by Debbi Clark, an accomplished professional photographer who is also the founder and CEO of Sir Hubert Von Herkomer Arts Foundation (HvH Arts in short) back in 2022 in support of The McCrory Award. 100% of the proceeds from art sales on HvH Arts Gallery fund this award, given annually in memory of Helen McCrory, to gifted unprivileged young people so they can have access to resources and training they need to fulfill their dreams.

So this post is about the photograph that I am thrilled to have in my study but also about The McCrory Award which I am proud to support. This is also a personal thank you post to those whom I have got to know thanks to my biggest TV crush ever for constantly inspiring me to be a better person.

A huge believer in that every child should have access to arts, Helen McCrory championed HvH Arts starting on day one when it was founded in 2013. We saw her and Damian attending HvH Arts exhibitions, chatting with young people about their art as well as working the phones on the trading floor to raise funds for the charity over the years.

Damian and Helen attend BGC Day and raise funds for the charities they patron in September 2018

After Helen passed away, Damian kindly asked us to add HvH Arts to his charities on  the 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 the foundation. And soon after the HvH Arts CEO Debbi Clark penned a tribute for her “Beautiful One” and announced The McCrory Award:

“The McCrory Award is a grant that will be awarded annually to supporting gifted disadvantaged young people who do not have access to the resources, the training and the finances to support them in their chosen medium.

The costs of studying the arts are prohibitive for many young people, and careers in the arts remain primarily the domain of the privileged. The McCrory Award is designed to provide a route through those barriers, giving all young people the opportunity to study the arts giving them the inspiration to become who they want to be, to follow their dreams and become a reality.”

Joshua Bamgbose, Sienna Rackal, andd Glada Averna, the first cohort receiving the McCrory Award back in June 2022 with HvH Arts CEO Debbi Clark and patron Damian Lewis.

HvH Arts Foundation hosts an annual exhibition of their young people’s work along with art work and photography inspired by the original patron Helen McCrory at the Alon Zakaim Fine Arts gallery with 100% of sale proceeds funding The McCrory Award. I fell in love with “My Song” when I saw  it on HvH Arts Catalogue in 2022. It is  profound, deep and moving. Debbi captures the moment perfectly. So it was a true pleasure to buy it and contribute to The McCrory Award in its first year.

When I bought “My Song” it was still so soon after Helen’s passing that I did not even think of asking Debbi anything about the photograph. But now that I wanted to write about it, I asked for a little paragraph about the shoot and here is what she gave me.

‘’My Song” – Damian Lewis was taken whilst Damian was recording his first album ‘Mission Creep’ . It was a beautiful moment in time as Damian was playing guitar and singing ‘My Little One’ . It was an emotional moment for me as I captured the pure essence of Damian’s incredible talent for his gift in songwriting and music. I felt honoured to be a part of his journey and his trust in giving me access to take this photograph. I will cherish this moment in my heart forever.

Thank you so much, Debbi!

When I bought “My Song” I did know that Damian was playing with Kansas Smittys because the music video of him singing “Such A Night” with them had already surfaced but I had no idea that Damian was about to make a new music career, release an album, do a tour, and so on. Now that all of it has happened, and that I have been a part of his musical journey from his first ever gig at Omeara, I think “My Song” and I were meant to be together 🙂  And here is a little video we made when the precious cargo arrived from London! Debbi certainly wrapped Mr. Lewis up with utmost care 😀

The McCrory Award Private Exhibition and Awards Ceremony is obviously the most special night of the HvH Arts’ calendar. And I was very lucky to attend this year’s event in March.

In his speech at the event, and he is such a good speaker, it is a gift, Damian told us about HvH Arts. We found out that Hubert von Herkomer after whose name the Foundation was named was Debbi’s husband Mark’s great great grandfather. He was a polymath artist. He was a portrait painter, a pioneer filmmaker, a composer, he worked in textiles, ceramic, and pottery. He loved art so much that he opened a school in Bushy that survived for about 20-30 years. He encouraged everyone in North London to come and fulfill their promise as young artists. And this is exactly what Debbi, “this pocket rocket” in Damian’s words, and her husband Mark totally galvanized this charity and gave an opportunity to underprivileged young people in Kentish Town and Camden to find their inner artist. Damian also talked about how much Helen loved and supported Debbi and cracked everyone up by saying “Helen knew a good thing when she saw it” 🙂 You can watch Damian’s speech and the award ceremony below.

And then there was cake! Here you go: this year’s award recipients, left to right, Emiola Oke, Ondine Farlam, and Danny English cutting the cake with HvH Arts Ambassaddor Sadie Frost, CEO Debbi Clark and Patron Damian Lewis. And I love it that Helen is in the background. I’m sure she is so proud.

And to show you the seriousness of the training the HvH Arts gives its young people, here is a glimpse into the beautiful art pieces that these young artists created. I was very lucky to see them up close and talk to some of the young artists at the event. 

I noticed earlier that HvH Arts CEO and founder, but also its current patron, and some of their die-hard supporters were Aquarians. Now, being an Aquarian is a serious business. I am an Aquarian. And I always claim I was born a month early (this is true!) just to become an Aquarian! So it was my pleasure to gave these t-shirts to some of the exceptional human beings at the event!


And no I haven’t left empty-handed! Here is the new art that will find a nice place in our apartment! This is money very well spent that gives kids with limited means the opportunity to hone their skills in their chosen art medium.

In closing, I would also love to add a personal story to highlight how the two women that I got to know through their association with Damian, Sharmila Collins of Cure EB (formerly Sohana Research Fund) and Debbi Clark of HvH Arts, utterly inspired me to do better.

Damian with my two heroes: Debbi Clark of HvH Arts on the left and Sharmila Collins of Cure EB on the right

These two, doing amazing hard work to change lives, and supporting each other,  inspired me to the point that I started thinking about volunteering to make a tiny change in the world. Well, I am obviously not a medical scientist or an artist. But I’ve always been academically good. A math and science girl from the get-go, a true nerd if you will 🙂

So, ladies and gentlemen, inspired by Damian and Helen’s big heart and the endless commitment Sharmila and Debbi have had in their respective foundations, I have become part of a Mathematics Teaching Fund in Turkey that an old and dear friend of mine founded. So, for the last three years, I have been tutoring math to Grade 6 kids on Zoom! They are from all over the country, from lower middle class or working class backgrounds. Their families want a good future for their kids but can’t afford it, so I meet with my 12 students twice every week during the school year, we review the math topic they have covered in school that week and solve problems together. Next to Fan Fun, this is the absolute BEST thing I have decided to do with my life. Tutoring bright kids with limited means gives me endless satisfaction because I know that I am touching a child’s life and may make a tiny change in their future. Just imagine – what a different place the world would be if everyone with means has decided to give back to the society, especially the kids with unprivileged backgrounds.

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

2 thoughts on ““My Song” – Damian Lewis: The Story of a Photograph and The McCrory Award”

  1. Oh, my… the opening!!!
    I finally managed to watch the video.
    Can you imagine this is a photo of My Little One recording! You probably can 😀 I’m so happy watching you.

    And yeah, Just imagine – what a different place the world would be if … ❤️❤️❤️
    I’m so proud of you.


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