Lord Mayor of Leicester £100,000 Fund
This event in Hoby was held in aid of the Lord Mayor’s £100,000 Fund, established by Jonathan North in the latter part of 1916 when appointed to his third term of office in the town.
It was a low watermark of the war time period: military achievements; food rationing; power shortages; concerns of civil unrest. The presence of disabled men, having received their discharges from the forces, were visible reminders of the warfare; they were returning home to be cared for by those for whom they had fought. In January 1917 nearly 2,000 men from Leicester and the County had lost their lives; there were 700 disabled soldiers in the town rising to over 890 in a few months.
The main event to launch the Fund was an “Olde English Faire” – a massive pageant held in the Market Square held on May 24, 1917, with a clear aim to provide for returning ex-servicemen, many of whom would be unable to work because of war wounds. It was reported that during the ten days of the Bazaar there were 3,000 helpers and on the football ground there were military displays, pageants, old English Dancers and school plays. It received messages of support from key national figures, including Admiral Sir David Beatty, and was opened each day by a local dignitary, one being entertainer, Miss Vesta Tilley.At the Funds’ creation there was an undercurrent of disaffection towards it with some saying it was too vague, coming from the pockets of the poor, or relieving the State.
Indeed, this latter point was raised in correspondence in 1917 between the Lord Mayor and the Duke of Rutland where the latter was saying that the Fund was removing the State’s responsibilities; see opposite page. It raises issues that have always been challenges for charitable organisations.
It’s pertinent to note that after the war the Duke changed his view and commended the Mayor for “this great work he had inaugurated and carried out”. See correspondence.