When George Michael secretly donated all royalties from 'Jesus to a Child' to ChildLine

13 October 2020, 16:30 | Updated: 13 October 2020, 16:42

When George Michael secretly donated all royalties from 'Jesus to a Child' to ChildLine
When George Michael secretly donated all royalties from 'Jesus to a Child' to ChildLine. Picture: Getty / YouTube

By Sian Hamer

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of ChildLine, revealed how the singer's selfless act helped to reach out to hundreds of thousands of children.

When George Michael sadly passed away in 2016, countless stories of his generous gestures and charitable donations came to light.

The 'Careless Whisper' singer was a keen philanthropist, but it was a side to him he actively tried to keep out of the limelight. His compassionate acts were something he preferred to do anonymously.

One of his many secret gifts was an "intensely personal" contribution to the free children's counselling service, ChildLine.

As his 1996 single 'Jesus to a Child' stormed the charts internationally, and bagged him his sixth UK number one, all of the royalties made from the hit went straight to the charity.

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George Michael preferred to keep his generous charitable acts out of the limelight.
George Michael preferred to keep his generous charitable acts out of the limelight. Picture: Getty

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Founder of the counselling service, Dame Esther Rantzen, only revealed George's generous gift after his passing in 2016.

"I met him a couple of times, he approached us, rather than us going cap in hand to him, but it was an intensely personal gift," she said.

"He didn't want it to be known or to be part of his image."

The single, which is now recognised as one of Michael's most famous songs, was a melancholy tribute to his lover Anselmo Feleppa. Feleppa had died in 1993 from an AIDS-related illness.

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"George helped us to reach out to hundreds of thousands of children through his generosity," Rantzen said.

George donated all of the royalties from his number one 'Jesus to a Child' to ChildLine in secret
George donated all of the royalties from his number one 'Jesus to a Child' to ChildLine in secret. Picture: Getty

His incredibly kind gesture meant the charity could "answer more children", she also explained.

"We were able to counsel 300,000 children who needed help last year, through emails, online and phone calls, and George made a palpable difference."

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Rantzen believes Michael wanted to support the charity because of his own personal problems.

"There was a sense of personal interest for him. We know he kept his sexuality quiet and it may have been tough for him when he was younger."

Despite his donations being so selfless, the star was determined to keep them secret.

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George Michael on stage in 1991
George Michael on stage in 1991. Picture: Getty

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After his death, a radio DJ also came forward to reveal that George had donated £100k every easter to help youngsters across the capital.

According to Mick Brown, a DJ on Smooth's sister station Capital FM, the 'Faith' singer would call up to donate the money when the station held its 'Help A London Child' campaign.

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It was in 1999 when George reluctantly opened up about his philanthropy.

George Michael backstage on tour in 1988
George Michael backstage on tour in 1988. Picture: Getty

"To be honest with you, I really don't like to talk about the amount I've given to charity over the years, I know it's very substantial," he told The Express.

"I don't exactly know what it is and I don't really like to linger on it."

He supported children's charities, cancer victims and AIDS patients, and joined a team of music stars to produce the original Band Aid single in 1984.

But we wouldn't be surprised if there's many more acts of generosity that we'll never know about...