Top Catholic school dumps Aids charity from gala concert

The Terrence Higgins Trust has spoken of its "surprise and disappointment" after a top Catholic school changed its mind about making it the beneficiary of a gala concert to mark World Aids Day.

The London Oratory school, which numbers two of Tony Blair’s sons among its alumni, approached the sexual health charity earlier this year about the event, due to take place on 1 December. However, it changed its mind last week, citing the clash between THT’s “aims and practices” and the “teaching and viewpoint” of the Catholic church.

In a letter to parents, the school’s headmaster, David McFadden, said the school “will always want to make sure its charitable fundraising and its work are done with organisations whose philosophy, aims and practices support Christian values. The nominated charity does not meet this criterion; it would be inappropriate for the school to financially support this charity form the proceeds of the concert.”

The proceeds from the concert, featuring the school’s world-renowned choir, will now be split between Surf, a fund for women who were infected with HIV during the Rwandan genocide, and international children’s charity SOS Children’s Village.

Debbie Holmes, director of fundraising at THT, said the charity had expected to raise between £3,000 and £4,000 from the event.

She said: “We were surprised and disappointed when we were told the school no longer wanted to work with THT because we had gone so far down the line. It looked like it was going to be a great event, but at the end of the day we have to accept the school’s policy.”

She said the charity had received no explanation for the about-turn from the school, adding that raising money for Aids charities had always been difficult. “Of the 29 fundraising categories on the CAF Charity Trends list, we are 29th, so we are used to working in a challenging environment,” she said.

No one from the school was available for comment. 

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