By Sally Fiber

The Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street. In the 1940s an Australian theatre group donated food for underprivileged children in London.
The Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street. In the late 1940s an Australian theatre group donated food for underprivileged children in London.

This terrible Australian flood disaster took on new meaning for myself and everyone associated with The Fitzroy Tavern when news came that it was the Fitzroy river in Queensland that had burst its banks. I contacted Peter the manager of The Fitzroy Tavern who straight away agreed to support and help. Connections with Australia and The Fitzroy go back a long way.

I was born above The Fitzroy Tavern and my parents ran the pub and the “Pennies From Heaven” charity which raised money for underprivileged children in London. It was set up first by my Grandfather in 1923 and then continued by my parents Annie and Charles Allchild.  After WW2 instead of taking the children to the country my parents decided to hold a party each year for local deserving children. However, they had a problem; we were still on rationing and so food was in short supply. When the HOYLTS Theatre group in Australia heard of our problem they sent over a large donation of food parcels for all the children.

With the news of the floods in Queensland I now had, after all these years, the opportunity of returning the kindness and thanking them for their generosity in our hour of need.

It so happened that my daughter-in-law Olivia Jacobs, the director and producer of the famed children’s production The Gruffalo was in Queensland setting up two new shows. I asked if she would consider giving the proceeds of one of the shows to the Premier of Australia Flood Fund. While watching the show the sirens were going off for the people to evacuate the city. After making sure the cast would be able to go to safety she was able to get a plane  just before the airport closed to Hong Kong where another two shows of the Gruffalo were playing. The Proceeds of two shows were donated to the children who were evacuated because of the floods. My friends and family also contributed. And Peter at The Fitzroy on Australia Day made a special appeal in The Fitzroy.

The Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal

Sally Fiber is author of The Fitzroy: The Autobiography of a London Tavern published by Temple House Books, 1995

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