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Café in the Crypt

Les Routiers Café of the Year 2012, the Café in the Crypt is the ideal spot for affordable dining in central London.

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What St Martin’s Mean to Me: Fiona Willis

News St Martin – Talking Points

Saturday 19 October 2013

Despite the fact that Fiona Willis visited St Martin’s for the first time this year, it has always been a special place for her.  Why?

In 1932, Ruby Henderson and her friend were adventurous young women who left their home in Dundee to go on a touring holiday.  They had heard that at St Martin’s you would be given a free bed for the night in the crypt, and decided to try this out for themselves.  In her diary Ruby recalls the ‘appalling’ smell, the atmosphere in the ‘almost total darkness’ and the kindness shown to those who were genuinely in need of a bed.  It made them feel ashamed.  That, coupled with the eerie setting, meant they slept not a wink, but it was certainly a memorable evening.

Following Ruby’s death aged 103, Fiona was kind enough to share this reminiscence with us and send a very generous gift in her memory.  Fiona’s gift has subsequently been matched by her family, and, as it is a contribution towards our endowment, will be matched by the HLF Catalyst: Endowment grant and yet again by our US donor.  The money which has been given in Ruby’s memory would have enabled her to stay in a fine hotel for many nights!  Instead, it will help us serve our community for many years to come.  Fiona knows Ruby would have liked that.

So what does St Martin’s mean to Fiona Willis?  The answer comes, in her own words, “A treasured memory; a link to the early life of a young woman, whom I never knew, but who would go on to become my most remarkable mother and friend”.  Rest in peace, Ruby.

Find out more about the endowment fund.

Do you have a story of what St Martin’s means to you? Let us know.