Topics of coins

10 Years of The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity

It is ten years that the Foundation of "The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity" has been playing, raising money for the purchase of medical equipment for children's hospitals. In January, 2003 the eleventh Final of The Great Orchestra falls. Eleven years ago, when we started this magnificent show, we were closer to one time initiative which idea originated during the realisation of a TV programme "Do what you want" ("Róbta co chceta"). I had conducted this programme for several years and among its viewers there were mainly young people. It is them we wanted to involve in volunteer activity, so distant and strange for the generation of the early nineties. Together with Polish Television we announced the date of the first Final which was the first Sunday of a New Year. Despite freezing cold we started with this crazy idea of raising money for the whole day "to save lives of children with heart disorders". An it turned out that only one Sunday we managed to collect 1.5 million dollars with which we bought ultramodern medical equipment for eight clinics of infant cardiosurgery in Poland. We showed that such an action can be organised, accurately accounted, that it is possible to buy very good equipment out of a decent tender and furthermore it is possible to buy it even more thanks to bank interest. And so it started. Successive finals, following topics, successive fantastic Polish Sundays of the beginning of a New Year. Each Sunday meant enormous amounts of money with which we bought and still buy equipment. Each Sunday had its topic and it was dedicated to a separate issue related with saving children's lives. Throughout 10 years we have bought equipment for over 39 million dollars. It is nearly 8 thousands of apparatuses, beginning from small pulse oximeters to X-ray devises and magnetic resonance. Thanks to our purchases death rate among new-born children fell by a few per mill, thanks to our activities national medical programmes were launched such as Programme of Common Genetic Hearing Screening of the Newborns or Retinopathy of Prematurity Cure Programme. After ten years there is no a children's hospital in Poland without equipment bought by the Orchestra. It has become a great national feast almost everyone participates in.

Next finals introduced also various symbols and so called gadgets, which define this very final and remind about it. 10 years ago, for the first time a golden heart was presented on an auction - small, nearly 5 gram pendant produced in the Mint from jewellery and gold donated at the first final. Eight years ago for the first time a golden telephone card appeared. Every year its limited number is launched - 100 pieces - and they are priced very highly. Occasional post cards, telephone cards, occasional plaques and medals have appeared so far and in year 2003 collectors' coins appear for the first time. This idea began to mature in our heads already a year ago. But only an initiative taken by the President of the National Bank of Poland Leszek Balcerowicz: raising money withdrawn by 12 countries of the European Union and its exchange in euro without any commission for the benefit of the Foundation - caused that our contact with the NBP became closer. During one of our conversations we took courage and suggested to "commemorate" such splendid actions of the Foundation by issuing collector's coins. To our great joy, really immense delight, we learned that such an idea would be examined by the NBP. It would have been, we thought, crowning of all these years we have passed and a stimulation for what is in sort for us, because once we said that we would play till the end of the world and one day longer. This is the reason why we strongly felt to have deserved for the Orchestra's heart to be on a coin.

Successive meetings, fast arrangements and fast decisions. The idea began to take shape, we studied projects. The coins are unusual, different, they bear the spirit of a revolt and rock'n'roll, which is spread by the Foundation, and we were totally surprised by the project of a coin with a hole inside. On the whole it combines elements of merry, a bit abstract and childish character which is also typical of the Orchestra. And why a hole? Because someone thought it could serve as a pendant and be carried close to the heart. Such a coin has not been struck in Poland so far. Almost everyone as a child would collect coins from all over the world. Some more popular, others quite strange with inscriptions, symbols and drawings totally incomprehensive for us. I think that children all over the world still collect such coins. So we had this thought, how great it would be when a coin with a hole would get somewhere far, far away to somebody's piggy bank or it would be put on a shelf, or a taxi driver from a nice sunny country would stick it to his dash-board. And then we will know that this coin emanates heat of a great, enormous action which has nothing in common with politics, with fight, with "for and against", only when bringing the coin closer to the eye, through this very hole a better and brighter world can be seen, the world which gives faith that people are able to help one another.

You can not even realise how happy we are that such coins are going to be issued because this way we can thank our volunteers and those who support the Orchestra. I promise that me and my friends and maybe millions of Polish people will carry this coin close to the hearts, for good luck, for faith and love of one's neighbour totally for free.

I say thank you to all those who took up the decision to struck these coins. It is really a big day, a big day for us.

And remember, we play till the end of the world and one day longer.

Stick with us! Thanks! See 'yal! („Sie ma") Jurek Owsiak