For 17 years, until her untimely death, Victoria Wood was our Patron. Jessie’s Fund was a small, infant charity when we asked whether she would join us. Now we have a great new Patron, Maxine Peake, but Victoria will always stay in important part of the Jessie’s Fund story.
Here, in her own words, is why the wonderful Victoria Wood became our Patron back in 1999:
‘One strange thing about being on television, apart from people in Marks and Spencer’s sidling up to see what knickers you’re choosing, is that you get a lot of requests for help. All worthy causes, all deserving of time and attention and money, and it’s not of course possible to get involved with all of them.So I’m quite careful, and stick to a very few that I can identify with, and have a good personal reason for helping. I never want to be just a name on a letterhead.
‘So why Jessie’s Fund? First reason, and it’s an important one, is that Lesley* and I were in the school orchestra together in the days of sixpences and Herman’s Hermits. Lesley was clarinet, I’m guessing first, and I was first trumpet. OK, I was only trumpet. It wasn’t a great line up, there were about 53 woodwind, 8 violins, one brass, and one percussion if Pat Ogden hadn’t had a better offer. And we played really slowly. Painfully slowly. Whenever I hear Handel’s Water Music or the Theme from Rosamunde on the radio I always think “My God, they’re taking that at a lick”.
‘But that was school and a long time ago, and Lesley* and I had lost touch, though she was quoted in one of my bibles when I first had a baby “The Working Mother’s Handbook”. So I knew she was a musician and had children and that’s all I knew. Then she wrote to me to tell me about Jessie, her daughter who sounded such a lovely child, bright and funny and musical, and I was full of admiration for the way that Lesley had turned a personal tragedy into such a force for good, so I said, yes, I’ll be a patron, I was glad to be.
‘What I love about music is we don’t know what it is, how it works, and it doesn’t matter. It’s all about totally personal response, it helps us find out who we are, and we all deserve that, however many days we’re given.’
*Lesley Schatzberger, Director of Jessie’s Fund.