Words: Darren Styles
Donate £5 by texting Attitude5 to 70480, or donate via JustGiving on our website at attitudemagazinefoundation.com
Attitude’s own registered charity has raised and distributed more than £250,000 since summer 2018 and, in the second of two short films that form part of this year’s awards show, TV’s Judge Rob Rinder has been to visit Curly’s Legacy, a charity set up by Kyle and Garry Ratcliffe on Kent’s Isle of Sheppey that’s part miniature farm and part memory-making holiday home.
The Ratcliffes first came to Attitude’s attention, along with most of the nation, after featuring in one of the most inspiring and uplifting episodes of Nick Knowles’ DIY SOS programme ever to air on the BBC. Out and proud husbands, and prouder still fathers to four beautiful adopted children with a range of disabilities, the sight of their two-bedroom house being dismantled and rebuilt to accommodate a family with such specialist needs was enough to melt our hearts.
What else could we do but bestow an Attitude Pride Award on this wonderful family the following summer and, in sharing their selfless story of love as part of the June 2018 ceremony, Attitude ended up creating a sub-plot all its own. First, the show’s host that year – TV’s Judge Rob Rinder – was so taken with the couple’s heart and generosity he agreed to be patron of their Curly’s Legacy charity, named after their son Curtis.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud to be a gay man than when I watched, from the stage, Kyle and Garry’s story unfold before me,” says Rinder. “It’s a tale of love between a couple, and of the unconditional love shared in creating a very special chosen family.
"The house that Nick Knowles and his team built for them highlighted the strength of feeling they invoke, but how – then – they set out to give back on the basis of the good fortune they earned is utterly inspiring. When asked, to become patron of their charity required no thought at all.”
The second set of stars aligning was the presence of Attitude publisher Darren Styles, himself in the middle of setting up Attitude’s own registered charity, the Attitude Magazine Foundation. He had a vision of how Attitude’s brand and standing could be harnessed for the benefit of LGBTQ causes, and in the Ratcliffes could see and example of just what he was looking for.
“All any of us want to do is make a difference,” he says, “and Kyle and Garry explained to me that the miniature farm they’d established through their Curly’s Legacy charity was generating a small surplus of funds each year, which they were putting towards the running of a new project, Curly’s Caravan.
"The caravan was intended to provide holidays for families that otherwise couldn’t afford or access such a thing – be it those with little or no income, those with disabled children or even life-limiting conditions.As a kid, I holidayed in a caravan at Herne Bay every year, so how could I resist that? We just needed to help them raise the money to do it.”
It took another 12 months before the Attitude Magazine Foundation was fully-established and running, but Curly’s Legacy was made the beneficiary of the summer 2019 Attitude Pride Awards. The Foundation doubled the Prize Draw proceeds, Attitude Editor Cliff Joannou and Amanda Hyndman, General Manager of the hosting Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park hotel, gave personal donations and Curly’s Caravan took home £10,000, enough to get them to target.
Garry Ratcliffe tells of the difference that made: “Without the Attitude Magazine Foundation we’d still be here, trying to raise the money. Instead, even in Coronavirus-interrupted 2020 with all of the travel restrictions that’s entailed, more than 40 families have been able to make memories in Curly’s Caravan, with holidays or short breaks.
"And, I can’t stress this enough, a number of those users have life-limiting conditions, so these wouldn’t have been opportunities we’d be able to share tomorrow.”
The Attitude Magazine Foundation’s support of the Curly’s Legacy is ongoing, but to maintain that we do need further help. Says the Foundation’s Development Director, Cameron Wood: “We’d encourage readers and supporters of Attitude and the Attitude Awards to find, if they can, just a small contribution to our range of LGBTQ causes.
"You can donate £5 by texting Attitude5 to 70480, or donate via JustGiving on our website at attitudemagazinefoundation.com. I promise we’ll spend your money carefully and wisely.”
Watch the 2020 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar from 9pm GMT on YouTube on Tuesday 1 December (1pm PST, 4pm EST, 10pm CET).