A History of a Charity in Twenty Objects - #4

#4. ‘History on the Sly’ Magazines (2000 to 2004)
‘Guy Fox History on the Sly’ was officially launched at the new Tate Modern on Friday 14thJuly 2000. That sounds impressive, right? A launch event at Tate Modern! 

And we s’pose it was. But it didn’t start out that way. 

Let’s back up a bit. 

Just before the first magazine went to press, Manjeet Edwards of the Peabody Trust called Kourtney and encouraged her to hold an event to celebrate the magazine. 

Kourtney looked at her budget – the same one that had not stretched to meet the delivery costs (See Object #3). There was about £35 left, certainly not enough for a party! Food and drinks, maybe, but a venue? No way.

Another ‘hmmmmm…’ moment (there’ve been a lot of those over the years). And then a crazy idea (there’ve also been a lot of those over the years!): What if Tate Modern would allow us to hold a launch event? 

The thought bubbles circled:

‘You never know…’ ‘They just might say yes…’ ‘You only get what you ask for...’ ‘The worst they can say is no...’ ‘What’ve you got to lose?’

Kourtney called Tate Modern. 
And guess what! They said yes! 

(But of course, you already knew that.)

So we launched Guy Fox at Tate Modern, with £23 worth of cookies, fruit juice and fizzy saucer sweets, served on brightly-coloured plastic platters from ‘Mr Pound’. 

A few people joined us – some children from a local school and their families, people who’d shown an interest in the project, and representatives from the Peabody Trust and Millennium Commission. 

(We didn’t yet know that these lovely people are called ‘stakeholders’. There was a BIG learning curve awaiting us!)

At the event, Kourtney asked for guidance: Could the Peabody Trust or Millennium Commission fund future Guy Fox magazines? 

‘No, but you can apply to other funders for small grants,’ Manjeet advised. ‘A word of warning, though, your success rate will be low. Don’t fret if you get a lot of rejections.’

Roger that. Kourtney applied for five small grants from five different funders, thinking she might get one. 

She got all five. 

So, she got to work! Research, draw, scan, design, proof, print, distribute. Repeat.

The magazines in the photo are the results. Each one features a Guy Fox cartoon, a puzzle page, ‘hysterical history’ facts and a poster with an illustrated history lesson. Each one is a little better, more polished, than its predecessor; each one does a better job of educating and inspiring local children.

And after each one went out, letters would arrive:
  • ‘Dear Guy Fox, can you put my drawing in your next magazine?’
  • ‘Dear Guy Fox, I interviewed my nan about the war. Can you print the interview?’
  • ‘Dear Guy Fox, can you come to my class and teach us how to draw?’
It was becoming obvious that Guy Fox would need to offer more than just a quarterly magazine. 
And that the ‘she’ needed to become a ‘we’. 

Kourtney recruited two friends, Gina Guarnieri (editor of the London Zoo magazine) and Clare Plaisted (a PR specialist), who donated their time and expertise to the endeavour. 

In February 2001, we ('we!') registered The Guy Fox History Project as a charity, with Gina, Clare and Kourtney as its first board of trust. As we produced the Guy Fox magazines shown in the photo, we dared to dream about the many ways that our educational charity might impact children in our local community.

The tiny seed was starting to take root.


2020 marks the 20th birthday of Guy Fox History Project, and we are celebrating throughout the year in lots of different ways. CLICK HERE to support our '2020 Vision' fundraising campaign.