Our famous names: Michael Palin

Michael Palin gives his time to the charity Action for Prisoners' Families.

Michael Palin has recorded a new audio book, Finding Dad, on behalf of Action for Prisoners' Families. It contains stories about the problems faced by children with a family member in jail. Palin's association with the charity began after Lucy Gampell, its director, wrote to him in 1998 asking for a donation.

"We were in financial crisis and I just sent him the usual begging letter because he had made a small donation in the past," she says. "He sent a substantial donation that helped get us back on our feet."

Palin recorded a Radio Four appeal for the charity in 1999, then performed a sell-out one-man show to mark its 10th anniversary in 2000. "I asked him if he wanted to be our patron, but he said he would rather do something practical," Gampell says. "There is no personal connection, but Michael says he is interested in us because we are a small charity fighting an unpopular cause."

Palin says: "We forget all too easily that when someone goes to prison their innocent families suffer."

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