A tribute to Charles Dickens’ invaluable contribution in helping to establish the Newspaper Press Fund was one of the highlights of a thanksgiving service at Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, when media executives, editors, reporters and their guests gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Journalists’ Charity.
Dickens, a former Parliamentary reporter, was one of the Fund’s earliest supporters and the author’s love of journalism was captured by the actor Simon Callow.
For the fifth reading at the service, Callow took an extract from Dickens’ address to the NPF’s second annual festival in May 1865. Dickens was in the chair at the festival dinner, held in the Freemasons’ Tavern in Queen Street, just off Fleet Street.
He was “a journalist to his fingertips all his life” and his speech proposing the toast recalled his early days as a parliamentary reporter starting at the age of eighteen. Dickens often “transcribed to the printer direct from my shorthand note” and had written “on the palm of my hand” under the dark light of a lamp while riding in a coach.
Dickens coupled his toast in 1865 with an expression of his “undying interest” in his old pursuit and promised his continued support for the NPF, “a sound, wholesome institution.”
The Journalists’ Charity is run by journalists for journalists. We are the leading charity for all journalists in need, always ready to help them and their dependants with advice, grants and other forms of financial assistance.