|Captain Thomas Coram|
His vision was to provide a place of care and compassion yet he had neither the means or initial patronage to set up such a grand scheme. Yet that did not deter him because Coram was a man described as both Compassionate and Determined!
He walked miles each day calling on Dukes and bankers appealing for funds. He gained the respect of the artistic community so that Handel, Hogarth and Dickens supported his endeavours - even today the proceeds of an annual performance of Handel's Messiah goes to the present day Coram Charity.
This was not overnight work. Captain Coram took no less than nineteen years to get his project off the ground and it was only in 1739 that George II, probably under the influence of Queen Charlotte, signed the Royal Warrant establishing the Foundling Hospital in Brunswick Square. To date the Coram Charity (although today in a different form) has helped over 25,000 children to a better life.
It's so moving to see displays of the 'tokens' that came with every child as they were admitted. Once accepted these children were given new names so the only thing to identify them was a 'token' , maybe a cross, coin or even just a note, wrapped in paper and kept in a file so that if a parent wished to 'reclaim' their child they could do so by stating what that original token was. All very Dickensian - indeed Coram is even mentioned in Little Dorrit!
The thing that struck me on Saturday was that phrase describing this Captain as 'Compassionate and Determined'. Strikes me that many great things have been achieved in this world by such wonderful people - many doing them in the name of Jesus Christ. Indeed the love of God isn't best displayed in a sentimental character but in the Compassionate and Determined entrepreneurs, 'movers and shakers' and 'dreamers' who want something of God's Kingdom of love and justice to break into our present world. For such people, inspired by such a God, we give thanks.