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News > Gattonian Memories > A flint that lit a flame

A flint that lit a flame

Throughout the amazing history of our School, stretching back two hundred and sixty two years, we have changed the lives of more than fifteen thousand children who we now call Foundationers.
Maitland Park Orphanage
Maitland Park Orphanage
A flint that lit a flame – the story of a singular old scholar

Throughout the amazing history of our School, stretching back two hundred and sixty two years to 1758, we have changed, and in some cases literally saved, the lives of more than fifteen thousand children who we now call Foundationers. Throughout this two and a half centuries, thousands of ex-scholars have revisited their School and many hundreds have remained in touch throughout their lives. Some have supported their old School in a variety of ways. This is the story of one person who decided to say thank you to his School for the start in life it gave him.  

George Stanley Flint was born on 11 September 1885. When he was two years old he was taken into the Junior (Alexandra Orphanage) Branch of the Orphan Working School following the death of his father, a church Verger. George was admitted by ‘Life Presentation’, meaning that someone, at some time, had donated two hundred and fifty guineas for the right to nominate a succession of children for admission to the School, throughout the donor’s lifetime. George, one of twelve children, was later joined at the Orphanage by an older sister, Amy. At the age of eight George transferred to the Senior School at Maitland Park. He left the School in 1899, having reached his fourteenth birthday.

In 1926, George became a Governor of the Charity, when he started making an annual contribution to its funds. This entitled him to vote in the twice yearly elections of children to the Alexandra Orphanage. Ten years later, a gymnasium was built at Maitland Park, in memory of the Charity’s recently deceased Treasurer, Lord Marshall of Chipstead. George gifted a grand piano for use in the gymnasium, plus a substantial sum of money for chairs and other necessities. His interest in and support for the Old Scholars Association is recorded in the Charity’s 1938 Annual report:

“There have been frequent meetings with members of the Maitland Association, which does much to keep in touch with scholars when they leave the Orphanage. Particularly remembered are the meetings at the Marylebone Baths on Wednesday evenings and the Annual Dinner which present scholars attended, both made possible by the interest of Mr G S Flint”

In 1937, the Duke of Kent, President of the Alexandra Orphanage, was due to Chair the Charity’s annual fund raising lunch. George, who was in the cigar trade, had for a number of years provided Havana cigars for guests attending annual fund raising banquets. For this occasion, George produced a specially constructed presentation box containing a full size cigar and, beside it, a miniature replica, to be given to each of the guests. This gift was intended to mark the recent birth of a son to the Duke of Kent. Unfortunately, the Duke was unable to attend the event but George’s gesture no doubt encouraged other guests to give more generously to the cause. 

Sometime between 1936 and 1938 George become a member of the Board of Management of the Orphanage and he purchased a Life Presentation, entitling him to admit a succession of children into the Orphanage, by the same means that he had been admitted fifty years previously. The School’s records show that between 1938 and 1943 George was the nominating Governor for the admission of seven children, including two brothers and a sister, whose father was reported missing-in-action in Hong Kong during the Second World War. An earlier child nominated by George is an active Gattonian, one of our older members, who, some eighty years later, still remembers ‘Uncle Flinty’ well.

In 1944, during the Second World War the School Welfare Committee, chaired by George Flint, arranged an Exhibition and Bazaar to raise money to support scholars leaving the School, in their further education and training. The event was held in the Ford Motor Company showroom in Regent Street in London, generously loaned by Lord Perry, Ford’s Chairman and a Vice-President of the School. More than twelve and a half thousand visitors attended and over £1,000 (approaching £50,000 at 2020 value) was raised. Photographs of the Exhibition and a poster advertising it are kept in the School archive. In 1948, George resigned from the Board of Management and went to live in Jamaica, where it was felt his failing health might be improved by the climate. He had been an annual subscriber for twenty two years; a member of the Board of Management for more than a decade. He gave much back to the School that took him in as an infant, looked after him for twelve years and turned him out into the world with the capability to earn a respectable living.

Only those instances of George Stanley Flint’s generosity that were noted in School records can be recalled now; almost certainly there were many more that were not recorded. George was one of a number of ex-scholars who supported the School throughout their lifetime. This commitment to their childhood home, and to later generations of pupils passing through it, is a testament to the importance of the School in their lives.
John Billingham
RAAS (1949-1959)  

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