Since 2017, David Burnell has been raising funds for QSA through free talks he gives on the history of the London Underground.
He has given the talks to organisations such as U3A, National Trust branches and local history societies. Instead of asking for a speaker’s fee, David asks the groups to make a donation to QSA. Alongside David’s own personal donations, he has raised more than £3,000.
David, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’ve spent my life in social care, qualifying as a social worker and then moving into social care management. But parallel to that I've always had two major interests, architecture and railways, in particular, underground railways. The reason why I'm particularly interested in underground railways is that when I was very small, I had to go to Moorfields Hospital once a week for treatment and my mother always took me on different ways on the Underground to get to the hospital and back home again. I thought steam trains were dirty smelly things and I much preferred the Underground and so that interest stayed with me.
How did you get started on giving talks on the history of the London Underground?
A few years ago I decided to leave my job and become a student again. I studied for a degree in history and studied London’s architecture, which led me to giving talks on it. I soon realised that I wasn't the best person to give talks on architecture, so I switched over to the subject of the history of the London Underground. It's gone from there.
How did you hear about Quaker Social Action and why did you choose to fundraise for us?
Well, I've been a Quaker since the late 1980s and one just gets to hear about these things. It seemed to be one of the Quaker charities that is doing something very effective which can be easily conveyed to my audiences, as well as being able to tell them about the awards given to the charity. Also having been involved in social care for all my working life, you begin to understand some of the things that go on in people's lives and understand disadvantage.
And if you can choose, which is your favourite London Underground station?
I have a thing in my life that I don't have favourites. But I can tell you the ones that I most enjoy. There's Watford station, which was designed by an architect called Charles Clark. I like it because it's got some beautiful interior decoration of mosaic terrazzo tiling. It’s a lovely big, red brick building which looks like a house and it blends perfectly into the street that it's in. Another one I particularly like is Oakwood, which was designed by Charles Holden, also a Quaker. It's just such a magnificent space, it's like a cathedral and it's just a beautiful building, expressing some Quaker ideals of simplicity and truth.
If you would like to contact David about a talk or a private guided tour, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org