The life and legacy of Tessa Baring.
It was in 1973 that Tessa Baring first joined St Michael’s Fellowship’s board of trustees, with her initial connection to the charity coming from her mother-in-law Lady Rose Baring, who had also served on our board. Tessa’s involvement in St Michael’s has been fundamental in our ability to grow into the charity we are today, so it only felt appropriate to celebrate her legacy with the renaming of one of our houses to ‘Tessa Baring House’.
It was Tessa’s leadership and clear strategy that enabled us to grow from the 2 employees we had when she joined, to a larger team, running 3 residential houses and embarking on our work with fathers, by the time she retired in 2007. Her leadership included chairing our board of trustees, but also becoming the charity’s first Director – a role she stayed in for 7 years. It was Tessa who discovered that new ways of funding services were available: we could now expect local authorities referring young mums to Palace Road to pay for the service. This enabled the charity to establish a firmer financial footing and look at expansion based on the needs of the mothers being referred.
Tessa led with kindness and generosity in both her spirit and the time she dedicated to St Michael’s over the years. She was a key driver behind our motivations to expand our services to more young parents, and also our success in doing so; whilst ensuring we continued to lead with integrity and no judgement.
“St Michael’s was so lucky to have had a relationship with Tessa over so many years, she really helped to shape our charity and prepare us for the future.”
Last week (24th November) we had an afternoon of celebrating Tessa’s legacy, and were kindly joined by her husband Peter and two of her sons Guy and Max. Previous trustees, friends of Tessa and supporters of St Michael’s gathered for the unveiling of the plaque for the renaming of Number 46. Previous trustees, friends of Tessa and supporters of St Michael’s gathered for the unveiling of the plaque for the renaming of Number 46. Sue Pettigrew, Director of St Michael’s, led the speeches.
We wish to say a special thanks to David Cutler, Director of The Baring Foundation, for encouraging us to fulfil our plan, Alison Penn, for her thoughtful speech and the Baring family for celebrating Tessa’s life and legacy with us.
Another special thanks to the Clink Charity for catering, whose restaurants are “situated within working prisons and all of our food is lovingly prepared and served by people in prison.”
“Out of all of Tessa’s charitable actitivities, St Michael’s was absolutely closest to her heart”
From left to right: Peter Baring & Sue Pettigrew, the Clink Charity, Alison Penn.
“The history of this small charity offers a unique look at a century of changing social attitudes towards families and the problems encountered – from girls giving birth with stigma and shame of the early decades, to the children at risk today.”