Calling all Once Upon a Time fans! You have a unique opportunity this week to acquire some one-of-a-kind Once memorabilia and help out a cause supported by Once Upon a Time star Robert Carlyle. The British Once Upon a Time fansite, Once Upon a Fan has teamed with With Kids Glasgow to auction some fantastic items this week, including fan art, rare DVDs, a signed script and more.
In fact, Mr. Carlyle has donated a very special Once keepsake to the auction—Rumplestiltskin’s treasured chipped cup, used in last season’s “Skin Deep.” The cup is autographed by both Carlyle and Emilie de Ravin, who, of course, plays Belle in the series. Carlyle tweeted about it yesterday, including a photograph of him holding the Rumple’s treasured memento of Belle.
Begun last year as a single page blog, the Once Upon a Fan site has grown into a huge world-wide fan community. In addition to the main fan site, the group has a Facebook page with 11,000 “Likes,” as well as 11,500 followers on Twitter. Site creator Gareth Hughes proudly noted to me that, “we recently celebrated a million site visits! It’s all non-profit and the writers work extremely hard and give up their own free time so I am very grateful to them for all their input. Big shout out to them.”
I recently “spoke” with Gareth, as well as Suzy Blair, community development coordinator of With Kids Glasgow via email to talk about the auction and the U.K. based charity. Gareth told me that he’d initially learned of the organization from Oncers who had sent him links to video interviews Carlyle had done as a With Kids ambassador. Here’s Part 1 of that video interview:
“I was quite inspired by his passion for the project,” Gareth told me, “and could relate to his tales about growing up in Glasgow. I was born in quite a poor area of Merseyside. I know my parents struggled to make sure we had the best of everything so I could really relate to the difficulties that disadvantaged families go through and the idea that everybody deserves a chance, or a happy ending.”
With the fan site growing in popularity, Gareth believed it was an ideal time to “really do some good. The fans have just been amazing in the way they have sent in items for the auction or donated to the appeal. It really reinforces your faith in humanity to see what people have done.”
He explained how the auction managed to acquire that iconic chipped cup. “That was a total surprise to me,” he explained. “I was blown away by it. Robert [Carlyle] had mentioned that he would try and sort something out for our auction but I had no idea it would be the cup. When he announced it in our interview with him, my jaw just dropped. It was incredibly generous of him.
“The cup was needed in filming recently so we are currently in the process of sorting out when it arrives. Hopefully it will make the planned auction in time but if not, we will hold a one-off auction for when it.”
The actor was “blown away by the response to the whole appeal,” Gareth told me. “We had one member who made a donation of $1,000! Robert was so moved by it that he wanted to thank them personally and asked for their Twitter handle to send a message. As it stands now, we have raised £3840 (about $6,230). And that is before the auction even begins. It is incredible and I am very proud to be a part of it.”
Besides the cup, there are many other real finds, including a gorgeous sketch of Carlyle as his Once Upon a Time character Mr. Gold. There’s a copy of the pilot script, autographed by series creators Eddie Kistis and Adam Horowitz, an autographed poster, and several other noteworthy items on the auction site. There’s a rare Emmy nomination DVD, fan art, dolls, posters, jewelry. “A real assortment of goodies for fans,” according to Gareth.
My own contribution to the cause is my official Comic-Con press badge, kindly signed by several Once Upon a Time cast members when I met them during the press hour. (I will as well send the winner of that item several unpublished photos of the cast I snapped during the session.)
All proceeds from the auction are headed to With Kids, a charity based in the East End of Glasgow, one of the poorest areas of Britain. Begun four years ago, the organization tries to address the unending cycle so often associated with poverty. With Kids Community Development coordinator Suzy Blair told me that the organization was started because “We saw children growing up and often ending up in the same situations that their parents had been in. Drug and alcohol abuse, violence, poor education, imprisonment, homelessness seemed to continue from generation to generation.”
The organization’s work focuses on “early years intervention. Informed by work in neuroscience and child development,” Ms. Blair explained, we know that the care received within the first two years of a child’s life has a huge impact on how a child grows and develops. Without appropriate love and care the brain simply does not develop properly and can leave a child without the skills and tools necessary to navigate life successfully. To this end we have play and dance movement therapist working in schools and nurseries helping children with chaotic or traumatic circumstances make sense of the difficulties around them and enable them to manage their emotions more effectively and build resilience and self esteem. For some children it may be the first time that they feel safe and cared for.”
Knowing that their work would be of interest to Robert Carlyle, who had, himself, grown up in poverty on Glasgow’s East End, the organization contacted him. “We contacted the lovely Robert Carlyle to ask him if he would be interested in becoming an ambassador, as he frequently talks about his own childhood and upbringing and we knew that he was passionate about work with children, and also about Glasgow. We were delighted that he accepted and he’s been very vocal about the work that we do and hugely supportive of us, despite being so busy himself.”
Carlyle often tweets about With Kids, and the three-part interview he did for the organization is both fascinating and revealing as he makes it clear exactly why he believes organizations like With Kids are crucial. “We’re very lucky to have him,” Ms. Blair said.
Noting that “the response from the Once Upon a Time fans and fan site have been overwhelming,” she said, “We’ve had donations and messages of support from all over the world, and the items that have been collected for the auction are just amazing. For a wee charity in Glasgow, we really can’t believe it and would like to thank everybody for their support.”
The auction runs through September 30. Different items will go up throughout the week so fans need to check back often. The bidding will take place on Ebay for Charity and the fan site will have bidding links up for every item. So, best of luck to all and congratulations to the lucky fan who wins that amazing chipped cup!