Many charities have been deeply impacted and are facing new challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those charities is Farms for City Children (FFCC), founded by author and poet Michael Morpurgo (GL 1957-1962).
FFCC offers children living in urban areas all over the country to live and work together for a week on a real working farm in the countryside. The farm welcomes over 1,000 pupils every year and offers children an enriching hands-on experience, immersing them in the life of the farm.
The current pandemic has meant that FFCC cannot operate. This is not the first time that the charity has faced such challenges, the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth caused the farms to close for 9 months. As Michael states on his website, 'our kind and generous supporters and our wonderful schools came to our rescue' and donations helped the farms reopen to welcome children once more.
Now, in 2020, FFCC hopes to welcome children back this summer, autumn or winter 'no longer cooped up, but freed like birds from a cage to enjoy the world around them' but this will not be possible without the help of donors and supporters.
To find out how you can support Farms for City Children,
please click here.
Michael has a positive outlook on the School's current situation, describing King's return after the pandemic as a 'new begining' - just like how the School returned to Canterbury from Carlyon Bay after the Second World War.
A special gift to the School, please enjoy reading Michael's 'Song of Gladness' story below:
I’ve been talking every morning to blackbird, telling him why we are all so sad at the moment. He sits on his branch and listens.
It was blackbird’s idea. He sang out this morning at dawn from his treetop in the garden, to fox half asleep behind the garden shed. She thought it a good idea too. It was a wake-up call. Fox was on her feet at once, and trotting through Bluebell Wood, where she barked it to deer who ran off across the stream. Kingfisher was there, otter and dipper too. They heard, and piped it on, and swallow swooped down over the meadow, and passed it on to cows waiting to go into their milking, and to sheep resting quietly under the hedge with her lambs in the corner of the dew-damp field.
And they all agreed, bleating it out to bees already busy at their flowers, to weaving spiders, and grasshoppers, and scurrying mice. Trees heard sheep calling too, the whole flock of them, and waved their budding leaves in wild enthusiasm; and high above, the clouds wandered through the skies driven by wind, and wind took blackbird’s idea over the cliffs across heaving seas, where gulls and albatross cried it out, and whales and dolphins and porpoises heard it, and wailed and whooped it down into the deep, where turtles listened, and they too loved the idea. So did plankton and every fish and crab and sea urchin and whelk, they all whispered that it was a fine notion, the best they ever heard.
And the whisper went over the sea on the curling waves to the shores of Africa, where lions roared their approval, and elephants trumpeted it, leopards yawned it, water buffalo belched it, wild dogs yelped it. Wildebeest murmured it out across the savanna; and storm lifted the idea up over rainforests, where rain took it and poured it down on gorillas in the mist, on chimpanzees in their sleeping nests. Howler monkeys and gibbons echoed their calls loud over all the earth - they are that loud; and then from far up high, sun heard it too and shone it down over deserts where oryx stamped her foot impatient to be getting on with it and doing it - she loved the idea that much. Even camel who rarely joined in anything thought this was the best and most beautiful idea he had ever heard.
Back in the garden, blackbird waited till everyone was ready. And then he began to sing. And the whole carnival of animals, every living thing on this good earth joined in, until the globe echoed with the joy of it.
And blackbird was very pleased.
But I was still lost in sadness, as I heard the earth singing around me. It was a song of forgiveness. I knew that. So I asked blackbird if I could join in. And he sang his answer back to me.
“Why do you think we are doing this, you silly man? We want you and yours to be happy again. Only then will you’ll treat us and the world right again, as you know you should. Only then will all be well. Sing, silly man, sing, sing. Our song is your song, your song is our song.”
So I sang, we all sang, sang away our sadness. In every house and flat and cottage, we clapped and sang, in every hut and tent, in every palace and hospital and prison. And they heard and we heard our song of gladness echoing all together, in glorious harmony across the universe.
To find out more about Farms For City Children,
please click here.
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