Septuagenarian takes local kids to the opera

Septuagenarian takes local kids to the opera


norman lebrecht

June 06, 2017

Lovely story from the Brixton blog, in South London, about Anthony Garner, a retired gent who takes kids from tough neighbourhoods to the Royal Opera.

Read all about him here.


H/t: Malcolm Noble


  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Excellent story but why bang on about his age? 70 isn’t old, 90 is!

  • Jamesay says:

    This is truly OBE worthy especially when when one considers many who receive such gongs simply for doing their paid jobs !

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      I couldn’t agree more, and think that the honours system needs a complete overhaul. The problem is that there seems to be a rather rigid formula applied. For one thing, the more senior orders are reserved for specific kinds of service, i.e. the Order of the Bath for civil servants and the armed forces, the Order of St Michael and St George for diplomats and service overseas, and the Royal Victorian Order for the Royal Household and others kinds of personal service to the royal family. Then the kind of service to be rewarded is graded both in terms of the level of service given and the impact of that service, i.e. local, regional, or national importance.

      This means that it is relatively easy for a permanent secretary to be made a KCB, an ambassador to be made a KCMG (or at least CMG), and a lord lieutenant to be made a KCVO (or at least CVO). Similarly, knighthoods/damehoods, or at least CBEs, can routinely be given to university vice-chancellors, chief executives of national charities, and writers, musicians, and actors or international reputation, and so on. All of these people are already amply rewarded with generous salaries (pace the ubiquitous claim that somebody of sufficient calibre to be, e.g., a permanent secretary would have made much more money in the private sector), career satisfaction, public status and influence, and awards more specific to their particular field (e.g. fellowships of the Royal Society or British Academy for academics). People who do really great work for local communities, or who perform truly selfless acts of charity, are generally rewarded, if at all, with the lowest grades of honours, such as MBEs and the BEM.

      I suspect that what is needed is to separate the honours system from titles, order of precedence, etc, and to cease awarding some of the highest honours more or less in recognition of the office held rather than the service given. What is needed is a system of honours for exemplary service to others. Somebody like Mr Garner evidently deserves to be highly recognised for this kind of work, as do many others. People like the Lord Chamberlain, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, the Master of the Household, and the Mistress of the Robes are made GCVOs more or less simply for doing their jobs. They may well work hard, but I doubt that their jobs are any harder than being a member of the armed forces, police officer, doctor, nurse, teacher, firefighter, and so on.

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    This is absolutely wonderful. I am so pleased that, in addition to providing affordable admission to chargeable attractions and events, he is trying to make these young people aware of just how much there is to do in London completely free of charge at the point of use. Given that young people in London receive free bus travel, they could be having many wonderful experiences at no cost already. There is probably more to do free in London than there is anywhere else in the world. Our free museums could provide a comprehensive education for a lifetime. We have many beautiful parks, gardens, and open spaces (Golders Hill Park Zoo does not have lions or tigers, but it is free). Our conservatoires and churches are wonderful resources for free concerts (and excellent liturgical music for those prepared to sit through a service). Universities and other institutions, such as Gresham College, provide absolutely world-class lectures and seminars on almost every subject imaginable that are open to members of the public free of charge (the University of London’s School of Advanced Study is particularly impressive in this regard). The sad thing is that those who may most benefit from these resources seemingly either do not know that they exist or do not understand that they are able to make use of them. Any initiative that gets disadvantaged young people out of their housing estates and onto free bus journeys to visit free museums, free parks, free concerts, and free lectures is owed the utmost praise.

  • Barbara says:

    Interesting and heart-warming article. I didn’t know that children could travel free in London.(Wasn’t the case when I was growing up there.) That is a very important advantage.

  • Cultural Desert says:

    If someone could kindly bombard the BBC with complaints about the lack of opera and classical concerts for folks who do not live near a concert hall, theatre or opera house, we need access if we cannot afford to go or are too old or worn out to make the journey to London. Their standard excuse is they have to cater for a wide audience! Well there are millions who cannot afford to go or live miles away who need to see it on telly. If ORF can have a culture channel why does the BBC not have one?