Charles Dickens and WH Smith are not the only famous names to be connected to NewstrAid. During the 1800s many notable people were associated with the Charity. The very first President, Alderman James Harmer, was a prominent solicitor of the day and was thought to be the inspiration for the character of Jaggers in Dickens’ Great Expectations. Renowned poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson was Vice President of the charity for 18 years, Lord Derby, a British statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs twice during his career was patron for 20 years and British Prime Minister, The Earl of Rosebury, Archibald Primrose served as patron for more than 15 years.
Various descendants of newsagents WH Smith and John Menzies have also been involved with the charity over the years and during the twentieth century the Patron and President list reads more like a who’s who of the British press world. Newspaper proprietors and press magnates associated with the charity include Viscount Burnham owner of The Daily Telegraph, Lord Barnetson of United Newspapers and two Viscount Rothermere’s, majority owners of Associated Newspapers.