Interview: Adam Rickitt

The former Coronation Street actor has moved from a job at the RSPCA to head the newly founded Help Harry Help Others charity

Adam Rickitt
Adam Rickitt

Adam Rickitt orders black coffee and a coke at the start of the interview; but this isn't a soap star recovering from a night on the tiles - it's a response to only three hours sleep as he prepares to launch a new cancer charity tomorrow.

The former Coronation Street actor and model is, perhaps improbably, chief executive of Help Harry Help Others, set up to continue the fundraising and campaigning started by 11-year-old Harry Moseley who, while battling an inoperable tumour, wanted to help others with brain cancer.

By the time he died in October 2011, Harry was something of a celebrity himself and had raised more than £650,000 for cancer charities by selling items such as beaded wristbands. He was posthumously named the Institute of Fundraising's Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year in July.

Rickitt emphasises that none of the money Harry raised himself will go to the new charity that his mother, Georgina Moseley, has founded. "My biggest difficulty already is making people realise that not one penny of the money Harry raised has gone to his charity," he says. "He started fundraising for other charities and they saw it as a useful tool for them.

"His dream was always to have his own charity, and now we need to reinvigorate his supporters and say: 'Yes, you supported Harry, but that money went to other charities - now you're actually supporting Harry in his ultimate dream.'

'Fundraising gimmick'

"Georgie is not upset by how the money was spent, because it went towards cancer. What did upset her was that at times the personal side was lost - even when Harry was alive it was starting to become a gimmick, a fundraising mechanism rather than a personal message."

A trustee has guaranteed the costs of the charity for the first year, and donations from the public came in as soon as Moseley announced she was starting it. There will be three elements - raising money for brain tumour research, supporting families coping with any kind of cancer and acting as an umbrella charity for hospices.

Rickitt was initially put in touch with Moseley by his fiancee, a friend of the family, to give start-up advice. He has been involved in the charity sector for about 16 years, starting as the 'face' of campaigns but gradually moving into the strategic side, ultimately as capital appeals manager with the RSPCA.

He also brings business knowledge to his new role, having set up and sold his own production company and worked as a PR consultant. He has also nursed political ambitions and was one of 100 would-be MPs chosen for the Conservative Party A-list in 2006.

Unique selling point

But is there room for another charity in the crowded cancer sector? Rickitt believes there is, maintaining that Help Harry Help Others has the unique selling point of supporting people throughout the "entire cancer journey", with a strong focus on remaining personal.

"Georgie considered going into partnership with another charity, but it was very much 'this is a square hole and you have to fit into it' - and we didn't want to do that," he says. "This is not about being the same as every other charity.

"Georgie has worked with some of the bigger charities, as I have, and we've both seen things we don't like. We want to make sure this one is about keeping that personal relationship. At the moment it is literally Georgie and me and an army of volunteers who are not working for a faceless, heartless bunch of number crunchers but are saving people's lives, making people smile and carrying on what one little boy dreamt of - that's how we're going to make sure the charity stays."

Rickitt says that the cancer sector might well be crowded, but only 0.7 per cent of government research funding goes to brain tumour research. "A lot more pressure needs to be put on the government, and we will be working with other charities on that and other issues - such as mortgage relief if a child gets sick," he says.

"We're keen to work with other charities; we never want to be the enemy of another charity. But as soon as word got out that we were setting up a charity, others have been sniffing around us. We all want to work towards the same thing - to cure cancer and support families."

CV:

2012: Chief executive, Help Harry Help Others
2011: Capital appeals manager, RSPCA
2008: Chief executive, Narcissus Films
2006: Actor, Shortland Street
2002: Managing director, ARP consultancy
1997: Actor, Coronation Street

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