Tuesday

The Story of Guy Fox History Project

On 23rd March 2000, Kourtney Harper received a letter from the Peabody Trust, which notified her that her application for a Leaders for London Millennium Grant had been successful.
Woohoo!

You see, Kourtney had had this vision, as far back as 1998, to create a cartoon character who would educate children about London's culture, art and heritage. She had this crazy idea to create an illustrated magazine for local children, and she had an even crazier idea that the magazine would be FREE.

In January 2000, she saw an ad in the newspaper: "Do you have an idea that would benefit your local community?" 
("Yes, I do!' she said to herself.)

"Do you require funding to make your idea a reality?"
("Sure. That would be really good.")

The ad said, "Contact the Peabody Trust to discuss your idea."

So Kourtney contacted the Peabody Trust to discuss her idea.

A nice lady named Manjeet Edwards helped her fill in the application. They put together letters of support (thank you, Alan McLean, Sandi Bain and Grazina McCarthy), along with a few samples of Kourtney's cartoons, and they sent the application to the Millennium Commission.

Three months later, a letter dropped through the mail slot. That letter was the official birth of me – Guy Fox! 

We launched the first magazine, 'Guy Fox: History on the Sly' in July 2000.

We had a little party at the brand new Tate Modern (which will celebrate its tenth birthday this May). We served cookies and juice and fizzy saucer sweets, on plastic trays that we'd purchased from the 'Mr Pound' store. We gave awards to primary school children who'd drawn pictures for our art competition. We made a speech or two and we unveiled the first magazine. It was a big night.

At the end of the evening, we packed up our belongings onto a trolley and left it in the Turbine Hall. A few museum-goers thought that higgledy-piggledy stack of magazines, plastic cups and leftover juice cartons was a piece of modern art, perhaps an homage to Duchamps' 'Fountain'. They were admiring it even as we loaded it into the taxi. (We still giggle about that now.)

Ten years on, we've grown. We have our own office. We have three staff members and a team of volunteers and contractors who contribute their talents and enthusiasm. We've worked with over 1,200 children in London, developing more than 50 educational resources which have been distributed to over 100,000 children in the UK and beyond.

But some things haven't changed. We still have those plastic trays from Mr Pound. We still do our best to create activities which empower children to explore the world around them. We still laugh every day.

And we are still looking toward the future, trying to improve our work and make a real impact on the lives of the children we work with. After all, there's always more work to be done. But more importantly, there's always more fun to be had!