Episode 2 True Stories


Episode 2

The stories behind ten people who changed the world. This second episode looks at Grace Darling, Edward Jenner, Rosa Parks, Dr Thomas Barnardo and Elizabeth Fry.


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Transcript


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I'm going to tell you something about my life.

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My name is Grace Darling.

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I was born in the year 1815 in Northumberland.

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I would have had a very ordinary life

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were it for not for something that happened one stormy night.

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The story of that night is the story I shall tell.

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You should know that my father was a lighthouse keeper

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and when I was growing up, the lighthouse was my home.

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It was my father's job to light the lantern

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at the top of the lighthouse every night,

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so that sailors out to sea would see it

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and steer their ships clear of dangerous rocks.

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Their lives depended on it.

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Lighthouses were built round and tall so they could stand up

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against the storms which would whirl around us rather often.

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There was just one room on each floor,

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with a spiral staircase round the edge from one floor to the next.

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My bedroom had round walls without corners and I loved it.

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When we visited relatives on the mainland

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their square rooms never felt quite right.

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I loved the sea.

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I spent a lot of time looking at it and thinking of the sailors

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out there, somewhere, looking back at the lighthouse.

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And that's how I grew up,

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in our little world of round rooms and routines.

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The sea was a constant companion. I learned to read it like a book.

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I spent so much time looking at it, I knew what weather was coming,

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whether there was a warm breeze on its way

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and with it birds from Africa, or whether a storm was brewing

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and I needed to lash our rowing boat down extra tight.

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One evening as we sat down to supper I knew a storm was on its way.

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What I didn't know was quite what a ferocious storm it would be.

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We sat round the table

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with the sound of the storm gathering strength all around us.

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THUNDER ROARS

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THUNDER ROARS

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THE SEA POUNDS

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WINDS HOWL

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THE STORM RAGES

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We took turns to keep a look-out for ships all through the night.

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At 5 o'clock, my watch was nearly over.

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I was about to wake Father to take his turn,

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when something told me to take one more look.

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It was then that I saw it.

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It was a ship that must have struck the rocks.

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From what I could see in the flash from the lightning,

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it looked like it had split in two.

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I looked hard for any sign of survivors.

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The waves were like mountains. It was hard to see anything at all.

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But then I saw something.

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I waited for the next wave to pass and then I was sure.

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There were people in the water!

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I ran to fetch Father.

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He could see them too.

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I knew if we didn't take our tiny boat and try and rescue them

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that they wouldn't survive in the icy sea.

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I knew we had to try.

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The sea was more vast and more wild than I'd ever seen it

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but still I was not afraid.

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Mother said there was little hope for them in such a dreadful storm.

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She didn't want us to go

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but I couldn't just watch when we had a chance to save their lives.

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It must have been hard for her to watch us leave

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and even harder to wait and hope for our safe return.

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Once we were in the boat, I knew we were doing the right thing.

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As I rowed I tried to think only of the people in the water

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and how we were their only hope,

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not of how cold my hands were, how the rain stung my cheeks,

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and how every wave seemed bigger than the last.

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We were a tiny boat in an enormous, raging sea.

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Father looked out for signs of the survivors.

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At last we spotted someone a short way from the boat.

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I pulled harder still to reach him.

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Father had to haul the poor soul over the side into the boat

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while I tried my best to keep us steady.

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The waves were coming over the sides.

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At any moment one big wave could swamp us and we'd drown for sure.

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But still we kept on and still I was not afraid.

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There were more people in the water.

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I rowed harder still to reach them.

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Father pulled as many as he could into the boat

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till our tiny boat could carry no more.

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I rowed us back towards the light of the lighthouse

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as hard as the strength left in my arms would allow.

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I don't know how many drowned in that terrible storm

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but we saved nine souls who would otherwise have surely perished.

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I suppose I had been brave.

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Only when we returned did I feel the full weight of what I had done.

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I had not been afraid

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but the sea, so vast and wild, could so easily have taken us.

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I knew then that we were lucky to have made it back to shore.

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I was so glad of the breaking dawn

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and a lull in the storm as we crossed the rocks.

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The rocks felt so solid beneath my feet. They felt like home itself.

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Mother was waiting for us with blankets.

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She said she knew we would return

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but I was so relieved to be back in that little round room.

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Mother had made hot soup to warm us.

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Then, exhausted, they slept where they could.

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I looked at them lying there and I felt grateful,

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grateful that I had found bravery inside me to row out into that storm

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and grateful that the sea had chosen to deliver us safely back.

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The next morning, the storm had passed

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and we could send them on their way.

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Saying goodbye, I felt like my life in some way

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would always be connected to theirs.

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But my story doesn't end there.

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What happened next was the strangest thing.

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Somehow news of our rescue spread.

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People from newspapers came all the way out to the lighthouse to see me.

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Painters came to paint my portrait.

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Maybe because it was a girl that rowed out in that storm

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it made a good story.

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Maybe I had been brave.

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But I had lived such an ordinary life or round rooms and routines

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that I didn't know what to make of all the fuss.

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People wrote me letters, some sent gifts.

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But of all the gifts the one I treasured,

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the one most precious of all, was this.

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This locket.

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Inside it are nine hairs,

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one from each of the people whose lives I helped to save.

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I'm going to tell you something about my life.

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My name is Edward Jenner.

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I was born in 1749 in a small town in the countryside.

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When I grew up I became a doctor

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but to understand why, I must start my story long before then

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back to when I was just eight years of age.

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That's the year something terrible happened in our town.

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Something terrible happened to me.

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That summer there was an outbreak of smallpox.

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You might not have heard of it but smallpox was a terrible disease.

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It was very infectious,

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which meant it was easily passed from one person to another.

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We were told to keep well away from anyone who had it

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but I couldn't keep away. I couldn't resist.

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I just had to see for myself what a person with smallpox looked like.

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It was a terrible sight.

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The worst thing I'd seen.

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I ran.

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I didn't want to end up covered in nasty scabs and most probably dead.

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Dead was definitely not something I wanted to be!

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There was no cure for it.

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You could call the doctor but there'd be nothing he could do.

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Once you got it, that was that.

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Well, people were desperate so they tried different things.

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One of the things they tried was to actually give you smallpox.

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They thought if they gave you just a bit you might not get it too bad

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and if you did recover then you'd never catch it again.

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So I was just eight-years-old when I was told

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I was going to be given smallpox deliberately.

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Well, I had never been so scared, not in all my life.

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The worst part was... Well, not the worst part

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but the first worst part was that they starved us first.

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For three weeks we had very little food. I was so hungry

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and I was scared too. I didn't want smallpox.

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What I wanted was a big pie and some apple cake.

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Then we were sent to see the doctor in the stables.

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I wanted to run away but I didn't.

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I had to see for myself what he would do to us.

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I'd never been so scared, not in all my life.

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But the waiting wasn't the worst of it.

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What was worse was that the doctor was grinding up something horrid.

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The stuff he was grinding up were scabs,

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scabs like I'd seen on the boy with smallpox.

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But the grinding wasn't the worst of it.

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One at a time we went in.

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Then the doctor blew the powdered scabs right up our noses.

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Imagine that, someone else's scabs going right up your nose.

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It felt like the worst moment of my life.

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But that wasn't the worst of it.

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The worst of it was that we couldn't leave the stables.

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THEY COUGH

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We had to lie there in the straw with the smell of the horses,

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and wait for the smallpox to take hold.

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And when it did, I couldn't have moved if I wanted to.

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My body felt like it was made of lead.

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Weeks it was. I lost track of when it was day and when it was night.

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THEY COUGH AND WHEEZE

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Eventually I started to feel better

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but one boy had got the smallpox badly and he died in the night.

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I swore then that there had to be a better way.

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I knew in that moment I would become a doctor.

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And when I grew up, that's exactly what I did.

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I became a family doctor.

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But I often thought of that lad I spied on through the window

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and the poor young boy who died next to me in the stables.

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I made a decision. I would try and find a way to beat smallpox.

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I read everything I could find about the disease.

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I spent weeks in my room scrutinising scabs.

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I really couldn't think of anything but smallpox.

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Then one day a woman came to see me, said her name was Sarah.

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She was a milkmaid whose job it was to milk the farmer's cows.

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She showed me a sore on her hand,

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I knew at once it was a harmless disease called cowpox,

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something milkmaids often caught from cows they milked.

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Then she said it was good she'd got cowpox

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because it meant she couldn't get smallpox.

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This idea that cowpox could stop you getting smallpox made me think.

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What if there was some truth in it?

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What I needed was to meet more milkmaids.

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I needed to see for myself if it could be true.

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CATTLE MOOS

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COCK CROWS

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Now, I confess I did like milkmaids.

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They always had such lovely skin.

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It turned out they all said the same thing,

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that they didn't get smallpox and had such lovely skin,

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because they caught cowpox from the cows instead.

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I was excited.

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I knew what to do next. I would experiment.

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I would test the idea that cowpox could stop you getting smallpox.

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The son of my gardener was a small boy called James.

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He was brave enough to let me try my theory out on him.

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I took some of the pus from Sarah's cowpox sore.

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I made a tiny cut on James's arm...

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..and put the cowpox pus in it.

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Doing this meant I was giving him cowpox.

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After a few weeks had passed,

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I gave him a small amount of smallpox in the same way.

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If the milkmaids were right, like them the boy wouldn't get smallpox

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because the cowpox would stop him from getting it.

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Get it wrong and the poor lad might get very sick indeed.

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I watched him like a hawk.

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I looked him over, checked him out. I followed him around.

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I waited for signs of smallpox but nothing happened.

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I watched and waited but still nothing happened.

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To my sheer delight, he was completely fine.

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I knew then that it was true,

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that it must have been the cowpox that stopped him getting smallpox.

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It was the most extraordinarily simple thing.

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I did a few more experiments to be doubly sure it worked.

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I called it a 'vaccine' after the Latin word for 'cow'.

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Once smallpox was a killer disease.

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Now there is no smallpox anywhere in the world.

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They say my vaccine saved more lives than the work of any other man.

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So it goes to show sometimes the worst things

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can lead to the best things.

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The weeks I spent in those stables

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spurred me on to find a cure for smallpox.

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So I guess you could say it's thanks to me you will never get it.

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I'm going to tell you something about my life.

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My name is Rosa Parks.

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I was born in the year 1913 in the United Sates of America.

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What happened to me, the story I'm going to tell,

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well, it was such a surprise to me really, but...

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Well, you'll see what I mean.

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I grew up on a farm in Montgomery, Alabama.

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I had to help out around the farm

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and every morning I picked up eggs laid by the chickens we kept

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that ran round our yard.

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My grandfather lived with us too.

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He liked to spend his afternoons sitting on the porch

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snoozing in the sun or telling me stories.

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Everything seemed just right with the world.

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It was a simple life and I was happy.

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I was just seven when I began to notice things,

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things that made me think maybe the world wasn't quite right after all.

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My grandfather would take me into town with him

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and what I started to see was that the fact that

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our skin was black and not white made a difference.

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I started to see that black people

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were kept apart from white people in all sorts of ways.

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At the town hall, black, or 'coloured people' as we were called,

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and white people had separate entrances.

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In the waiting room, we had to sit in separate seats.

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Even when the black people's seats were full,

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we weren't allowed in the white section.

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At the bus stop we had to stand in line

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while the white people got to sit on a bench.

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I found it all so confusing.

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I really didn't understand what possible difference

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the colour of your skin could make.

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Everyone wore hats, went to work, ate lunch.

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I don't know, to me it seemed we were all the same.

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But everyone acted like there was a difference,

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like it was just the way things were.

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We had to drink from a separate water fountain,

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go to a different church, use a different public toilet.

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I grew up.

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Still I didn't understand why the world was unjust to black people.

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But the Government made the rules,

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so it seemed there was nothing we could do.

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Like everyone else I went along with it. I followed the rules.

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I used the black people's entrance,

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drank from the black people's water fountain,

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went to the black people's church.

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I got a job working in a department store.

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Every day I waited for the bus to go to work.

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When I boarded the bus,

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I would sit like we always had to at the back end of the bus,

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while the white people had a reserved section at the very front.

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If the white seats were full we had to give up our seat

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when a white person got on, even if that meant standing up all the way.

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It wasn't fair but those were the rules

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and like most people I just did what I was told and didn't make a fuss.

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It was December 1st, 1955.

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I don't know why it happened on this day.

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It was a day like any other.

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It had been a long day at work and I was eager to get home,

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take off my shoes and rub my feet.

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It was a day like any other.

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I didn't know when I boarded the bus that afternoon

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that I was going to do what I did.

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I took my seat in the row behind the white people's seats.

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The white rows were full when another white lady boarded the bus.

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I stayed put. I felt myself rooted to the spot just like a tree.

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Somehow in that moment, I'd made up mind.

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The white people in front of me tutted and shook their heads.

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I felt the black people behind me sit up a little straighter,

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keen to see what would happen next.

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The bus driver left his seat.

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But still I didn't budge.

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Somehow I'd made up my mind.

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The white people in front of me tutted and shook their heads.

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I felt the black people behind me lean forward to see who it was

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that had dared to disobey the rules.

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The police came, but still I didn't budge.

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I'd never made a fuss before.

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I'd never broken any rule, let alone been arrested.

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But somehow I'd made up my mind.

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People said afterwards that I refused to give up my seat

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because I was tired.

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True, it had been a long day and my body ached.

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But that's not why I refused to stand. No.

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The only tired I was, was tired of giving in,

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tired of being treated differently like a second class citizen,

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on account of the colour of my skin.

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Everyone else I knew was tired of it too,

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it was just we didn't know what to do about it.

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My little act of defiance, my refusal to give in,

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it was a small thing to do.

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I just wanted for once to be able to sit where I sat,

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and to not have to give up my seat to someone else

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just because she was white.

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It was a small thing to do.

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But it was what happened afterwards that really mattered.

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PHONES RING

0:32:100:32:13

Without knowing it, I'd started something.

0:32:130:32:17

That very evening, news of my tiny protest got around.

0:32:170:32:23

People got together and called anyone they could think of.

0:32:230:32:26

They wanted everyone to know what I had done.

0:32:260:32:29

It was as if they'd all been waiting for a chance to do something

0:32:290:32:34

and my simple refusal to stand up on a bus one afternoon

0:32:340:32:38

had given them that chance.

0:32:380:32:40

Plans started to form for a bus boycott.

0:32:400:32:43

The idea was that on the Monday when my case would go to court

0:32:430:32:48

all the black people in Montgomery should walk to work

0:32:480:32:51

and refuse to take the bus.

0:32:510:32:53

That way the bus company would lose money

0:32:530:32:56

and people would see that I wasn't the only one

0:32:560:32:59

who was tired of giving in, tired of being treated badly.

0:32:590:33:03

Monday 5th December was the day of my court case.

0:33:060:33:11

I was found guilty of not following the rules and fined 14,

0:33:110:33:17

which was a lot of money in those days to someone like me.

0:33:170:33:21

But it didn't matter.

0:33:210:33:23

What did matter was what was going on outside.

0:33:230:33:27

Most of Montgomery's 40,000 black workers

0:33:300:33:34

and some white people too didn't take the bus to work or school.

0:33:340:33:39

Some walked, some shared cars, some rode bicycles.

0:33:390:33:43

They wanted to show the world that they had all had enough.

0:33:430:33:48

They marched through the street

0:33:480:33:50

and there were so many of them it was impossible to ignore.

0:33:500:33:55

The buses were almost empty.

0:33:590:34:02

The protest continued long after I'd paid my fine

0:34:020:34:05

and gone back to my job.

0:34:050:34:08

Altogether people stayed off the buses

0:34:080:34:11

and walked to work for 381 days.

0:34:110:34:15

It became a powerful symbol that we were tired of giving in.

0:34:150:34:20

The newspapers wrote about the protest.

0:34:240:34:27

People all over America could see what was going on.

0:34:270:34:31

Eventually the Government had to do something.

0:34:310:34:35

They made a new rule.

0:34:360:34:38

Black people no longer had to sit in a separate section of the bus.

0:34:380:34:43

We would never again have to give up our seats to someone

0:34:430:34:47

just because they were white.

0:34:470:34:49

Black people and white people were still kept separate in other ways,

0:34:500:34:55

but it was a start, a step towards equality and justice.

0:34:550:35:01

I was just an ordinary person and I was amazed at what I'd started.

0:35:010:35:07

I was so glad that on that day I made up my mind

0:35:070:35:12

and I refused to budge.

0:35:120:35:14

I'm going to tell you something about my life.

0:35:510:35:54

My name is Thomas Barnardo.

0:35:550:35:57

I was born in 1845 in Dublin in Ireland.

0:35:570:36:01

I should start my story when I was a boy,

0:36:020:36:06

that way you'll understand the things that happened in my life

0:36:060:36:10

that changed the way I saw the world and my place in it.

0:36:100:36:14

When I was a boy, I was grumpy and selfish and thought only of myself.

0:36:170:36:23

If someone else had something, I felt it really should be mine.

0:36:250:36:30

I was short and ordinary.

0:36:360:36:40

I got angry at people for no reason

0:36:400:36:42

and when they didn't get angry back it made me so confused.

0:36:420:36:47

Then something changed, although it's hard to say what happened

0:36:530:36:57

to make me see the world differently.

0:36:570:36:59

For starters I grew up.

0:37:040:37:06

I changed from a boy who could think only of what he could do for himself

0:37:060:37:11

into a man obsessed with how he could best do things for others.

0:37:110:37:16

It was as if I needed to make up for all the things I had taken.

0:37:210:37:25

That's why I decided to go to London to train to be a doctor.

0:37:320:37:37

My plan was to go to China once I'd qualified to help poor people there

0:37:370:37:42

but I soon realised there were plenty of poor people

0:37:420:37:45

right under my nose in London, in desperate need of help.

0:37:450:37:49

The East End of London

0:37:520:37:54

was one of the poorest places a person could find themselves.

0:37:540:37:58

A slum it was, cramped and dirty and stinking and just plain awful.

0:37:580:38:04

Not fit for a dog.

0:38:040:38:05

But thousands of people had no choice but to call it home.

0:38:150:38:19

They lived all crammed in together, sometimes dozens to a single room.

0:38:190:38:25

It was a maze of filthy streets,

0:38:250:38:28

a place where disease and criminals ran riot,

0:38:280:38:31

and a place that could drive a person to despair.

0:38:310:38:35

BABIES CRY

0:38:370:38:40

I wanted to help but at first I didn't know how.

0:38:530:38:56

I walked the slums

0:38:590:39:00

and tried to read the Bible to people to give them hope.

0:39:000:39:04

But it wasn't enough.

0:39:040:39:06

BABY SCREAMS

0:39:060:39:08

I knew that because school was something you had to pay for,

0:39:140:39:18

the children who lived in the slums had no chance of an education.

0:39:180:39:23

So I decided to set up a school.

0:39:340:39:37

It was called the Ragged School.

0:39:370:39:40

CHILDREN CHATTER

0:39:400:39:42

We would offer free learning to any child that wanted to attend.

0:39:420:39:46

They were indeed a ragged lot.

0:39:530:39:55

They'd never been to school before or sat at a desk.

0:39:550:39:59

They couldn't concentrate and they couldn't sit still.

0:39:590:40:03

But I was patient with them and eventually

0:40:100:40:14

I managed to bring them round till they listened to every word I said.

0:40:140:40:18

SILENCE FALLS

0:40:180:40:21

I felt a real satisfaction then,

0:40:290:40:31

watching them all write out their letters on a board.

0:40:310:40:36

A little reading and writing might give them a chance to find work.

0:40:360:40:41

SCHOOL BELL RINGS

0:40:420:40:45

Then one day something happened to make me realise

0:40:490:40:52

how little I had really done.

0:40:520:40:54

It was the end of an ordinary day

0:40:560:40:58

and the children had left and all gone home.

0:40:580:41:01

I was going upstairs to lock the doors, thinking the place was empty,

0:41:010:41:05

when I came across a small boy called Jim Jarvis.

0:41:050:41:09

I told him it was time to go home

0:41:120:41:15

and he asked if he could stay where he was till next morning.

0:41:150:41:19

I said I had to lock up, that he should go home to his mother.

0:41:190:41:24

He told me then that he had no mother nor any father neither.

0:41:240:41:30

He told me then that he had no home to go to.

0:41:300:41:34

It was a shock to me that a boy as small as he could have no home

0:41:360:41:41

and no mother to kiss his head and give him supper.

0:41:410:41:45

I asked him if there were other boys the same

0:41:450:41:49

and if he could show me where they slept.

0:41:490:41:52

He took me deep into the slums

0:41:530:41:56

and we climbed up to the roof of some building.

0:41:560:41:59

And sure enough, there on a rooftop, huddled together like baby mice,

0:42:200:42:26

were a group of boys, some of them even smaller than small Jim Jarvis.

0:42:260:42:32

It was a sight that would stay with me, a sight that would spur me on.

0:42:360:42:41

I couldn't shake the thought that there were children

0:42:470:42:50

with no home to go to, littering the rooftops on cold London nights.

0:42:500:42:55

I had to do something and as soon as I could raise the funds

0:42:580:43:03

I opened a home for homeless boys.

0:43:030:43:06

We had spaces for 25 boys and in no time at all we were full up.

0:43:080:43:13

We gave those boys a home, a hearty breakfast and a warm bed at night,

0:43:130:43:18

and we gave them skills that could lead them to a better life.

0:43:180:43:25

One night there was a knock at the door.

0:43:300:43:33

A boy stood there looking cold and hungry.

0:43:340:43:38

He asked to be let in, saying he had nowhere else to go,

0:43:390:43:43

but all our beds were filled and I turned the poor lad away.

0:43:430:43:47

As I closed the door I wondered what would become of him.

0:43:470:43:51

I hoped he had others to huddle with somewhere

0:43:510:43:54

on such a cold winter's night.

0:43:540:43:56

But I must admit I returned then to my work

0:44:040:44:07

and didn't give the boy another thought.

0:44:070:44:11

WINDS HOWL

0:44:290:44:32

The next day I was walking in the lane beside the house

0:44:410:44:45

when I passed two men carrying a body between them.

0:44:450:44:48

To my great dismay, it was the very same lad

0:44:490:44:52

I had seen just the night before, frozen to death.

0:44:520:44:57

What I saw in that moment was that for every child I helped,

0:45:010:45:04

there were still others out there in desperate need.

0:45:040:45:08

I made a decision.

0:45:100:45:12

Straightaway I had a sign made and put up on the front of the house.

0:45:140:45:19

It read, No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission.

0:45:190:45:25

I vowed to never again turn a homeless child away.

0:45:250:45:29

And I never did.

0:45:310:45:33

In my lifetime I did all I could to help the children of London's slums.

0:45:370:45:42

I opened 96 homes altogether, where we helped 8,500 children.

0:45:430:45:49

The work I started continues to this day.

0:45:510:45:54

Once I was a boy who could think only of what he could do for himself

0:45:560:46:01

but I became a man obsessed with how I could best do things for others.

0:46:010:46:06

And my life was all the better for that.

0:46:070:46:10

I'm going to tell you something about my life.

0:46:450:46:49

My name is Elizabeth Fry.

0:46:500:46:52

I was born in 1780 in Norfolk.

0:46:520:46:55

I will begin the story I will tell you when I was just a child,

0:46:590:47:03

so you can see where I started from and what I became.

0:47:030:47:09

CHILDREN GIGGLE

0:47:090:47:12

We were a large family. I had six brothers and sisters

0:47:130:47:17

but I always seemed to be the odd one out.

0:47:170:47:21

While my siblings all played together

0:47:240:47:27

and were loud and ran around the house,

0:47:270:47:30

I always felt like I couldn't keep up and I couldn't fit in.

0:47:300:47:35

We lived in a big, old house. I was afraid of the dark

0:47:370:47:40

and sometimes my brothers and sisters would tease me

0:47:400:47:45

and make me go into its dark corners, knowing I'd be scared.

0:47:450:47:49

My fear of the dark was even worse at night.

0:47:530:47:56

We only had candlelight then and I'd lie awake watching it burn down,

0:47:580:48:04

dreading the moment it would go out.

0:48:040:48:07

Nearly every night I dreamt the sea was coming to wash me away.

0:48:080:48:13

SHE GASPS

0:48:130:48:15

I grew up, but still it was the same.

0:48:250:48:29

Still I stared at the candle till it went out

0:48:290:48:32

and woke from dreams that the sea was coming to wash me away.

0:48:320:48:36

SHE GASPS

0:48:360:48:38

I was a timid person, afraid to join in.

0:48:380:48:41

I was never quite sure who I was

0:48:420:48:44

or what I was supposed to do with my life.

0:48:440:48:48

My family were Quakers,

0:48:510:48:53

a religion that taught us we should do what we could to help the poor.

0:48:530:48:58

We had plenty of money

0:49:000:49:02

and I felt uneasy about the comfortable life we lived

0:49:020:49:06

whilst others around us struggled to get by.

0:49:060:49:09

I tried to help. I collected clothes for them or gave them money or food.

0:49:090:49:15

But I knew that handing out apples or pennies wasn't nearly enough.

0:49:160:49:21

One Sunday we went to the Meeting House like we always did.

0:49:270:49:32

At Quaker meetings, there was no priest or vicar to lead the service,

0:49:350:49:39

and mostly we would just sit together in silent prayer.

0:49:390:49:43

Anyone was free to speak if they felt moved to do so.

0:49:470:49:51

A man called William Savery, a Quaker from America,

0:49:540:49:58

had come to sit with us. When he stood to speak, everyone listened.

0:49:580:50:04

HE SPEAKS

0:50:040:50:06

Suddenly something he said made me listen, really listen,

0:50:160:50:20

like it had woken me up.

0:50:200:50:23

I say again, take the life you have been given. Do good with it.

0:50:230:50:29

I never knew that one man's words could change your life.

0:50:310:50:35

I can't explain what happened.

0:50:390:50:42

It was like a great weight was lifted from me.

0:50:420:50:46

I felt light as a feather, light inside.

0:50:460:50:50

It was like I'd spent all my life up to this point under water

0:50:530:50:57

and finally I'd swum up to the surface and could breathe.

0:50:570:51:01

In that moment, what you might call my epiphany,

0:51:030:51:07

I saw what it was I had to do.

0:51:070:51:09

I had always wanted to do good

0:51:090:51:12

but for the first time I saw that it should be my sole purpose

0:51:120:51:17

and rather than waiting for something to happen

0:51:170:51:20

like I had done all these years, I had to act.

0:51:200:51:25

It was up to me.

0:51:250:51:27

I'd heard about Newgate Prison,

0:51:310:51:33

that it was one of the darkest, most awful places you could imagine.

0:51:330:51:38

I felt compelled to visit it and see the terrible conditions myself.

0:51:380:51:42

It was the largest prison in London and full to the rafters

0:51:420:51:46

with both the worst kind of criminals

0:51:460:51:49

and people who were put there for the smallest crimes.

0:51:490:51:52

It had a reputation for being a terrible place to end up.

0:51:520:51:57

Even the building itself had been designed to instil fear

0:52:040:52:08

in all those who looked upon it.

0:52:080:52:11

People tried to put me off, saying it was no place for a lady like me.

0:52:110:52:16

But I needed to see it for myself.

0:52:160:52:19

To think I had been afraid to lie down in my own bed at night,

0:52:190:52:24

and here was I about to walk down the long, dark corridors of Newgate!

0:52:240:52:30

But I was no longer afraid.

0:52:340:52:37

I would never fear the dark again.

0:52:370:52:39

All the fear had gone out of me

0:52:390:52:42

and I was focussed only on the work that I would do.

0:52:420:52:46

What a place it was,

0:52:510:52:53

all heavy gates and thick walls without windows.

0:52:530:52:57

It was a wonder any soul who dwelt in it could breathe at all.

0:52:590:53:04

THEY COUGH AND TALK

0:53:040:53:07

When I saw the conditions the prisoners were kept in

0:53:100:53:13

I was appalled.

0:53:130:53:15

Treated worse than animals, they were herded together in one room.

0:53:150:53:20

They had no privacy, just a bucket,

0:53:200:53:23

and nowhere to wash or clean their clothes.

0:53:230:53:26

There were women too amongst the men,

0:53:320:53:34

most of them there for petty crimes

0:53:340:53:37

like stealing clothes or loaves of bread.

0:53:370:53:40

But the worst sight of all was the sight of their poor children,

0:54:010:54:05

innocent of any crime, forced to suffer just the same.

0:54:050:54:10

BABIES CRY

0:54:100:54:13

I hurried away, knowing that I had found my purpose.

0:54:150:54:18

There was so much work to be done.

0:54:230:54:25

The people I had seen at Newgate Prison, especially the children,

0:54:310:54:37

were like forgotten souls, like little ships lost at sea.

0:54:370:54:44

I would make it my job to light a way back to shore,

0:54:450:54:50

to show them all was not lost.

0:54:500:54:53

First I would see to it that they got the most basic things.

0:54:540:54:58

I gathered friends together and we sewed clothes for the children.

0:55:010:55:05

The very next day, I returned to Newgate Prison.

0:55:150:55:19

INMATES CHATTER AND COUGH

0:55:340:55:36

I'd brought the clothes we'd made

0:55:360:55:38

and fresh bread, which they ate like they'd not seen bread before.

0:55:380:55:43

What I really wanted was to do something for the children.

0:55:480:55:52

I picked up a boy who could not have been more than four-years-old.

0:55:540:55:58

I made them listen.

0:55:580:56:00

I said, "Should we not do something

0:56:000:56:02

"for these children who are innocent of any crime?

0:56:020:56:06

"Should children not have a chance even if their mothers did not?"

0:56:060:56:10

I said we could give them that chance,

0:56:100:56:13

a chance of a future beyond Newgate's walls,

0:56:130:56:16

and to give them that chance we should give them schooling.

0:56:160:56:20

I said I would teach them myself and they agreed.

0:56:200:56:23

SHE READS TO THEM

0:56:250:56:28

I had benches brought in and books.

0:56:320:56:36

Soon I had them all lined up and listening as I read aloud.

0:56:360:56:40

But the children weren't the only ones listening.

0:56:430:56:46

All the better, I thought, if the women too had the desire to learn.

0:56:490:56:53

I suspect most had never had the chance before.

0:56:530:56:56

I decided I would teach them too,

0:57:000:57:03

that they might find work on leaving prison

0:57:030:57:06

and not need to resort to petty crime again.

0:57:060:57:09

The schooling was a great success. Word got around.

0:57:110:57:15

Apparently the prisoners had never been so quiet, so orderly,

0:57:150:57:19

so willing to get on.

0:57:190:57:21

SHE READS TO THEM

0:57:210:57:23

When the Mayor of London himself came to see what we were doing,

0:57:240:57:29

I knew now that everyone was listening

0:57:290:57:33

and that this was just the beginning.

0:57:330:57:35

With his approval, there would be even more we could achieve.

0:57:350:57:41

What had started with the words of the preacher William Savery

0:57:430:57:47

had become my whole life, my entire purpose.

0:57:470:57:51

All my fear had gone.

0:57:520:57:54

I knew, at last, exactly who I was.

0:57:540:57:58

I took the life I had been given and did good with it.

0:58:000:58:03

The work I did went on to change every prison in the country.

0:58:060:58:12

The poor who ended up there would no longer be forgotten.

0:58:140:58:18

Instead they would be given the chance of a better life.

0:58:180:58:22

And next time you have a £5 note in your hand,

0:58:240:58:27

have a proper look at it.

0:58:270:58:30

It's my face you'll see looking back at you!

0:58:300:58:33

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:380:58:42

This two-part series aimed at five- to seven-year-olds tells the stories of ten extraordinary and inspiring people who changed the world. These are tales of bravery, invention, determination and discovery. Each story begins when they were children, illustrating an event that shaped them or set them on their path.

The unfolding narrative is brought to life and played out using a unique mix of drama, choreographed movement, specially composed music and animation. The figures from history speak directly to their young audience, enabling the viewer to get to the emotional core of the story too - the determination to row a boat out into a storm to save lives, the thrill of a medical discovery or the fight to simply make things better.

This second episode looks at Grace Darling, Edward Jenner, Rosa Parks, Dr Thomas Barnardo and Elizabeth Fry.

The programme looks at Grace Darling's life in a lighthouse and the night she saved nine lives. It shows how Edward Jenner discovered a vaccine against smallpox and follows Rosa Parks as she refuses to give up her seat on a bus and inspires a movement towards justice and equality. It also follows Dr Thomas Barnardo as he sets up a home for street children and watches Elizabeth Fry change the lives of prisoners at Newgate.


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