Giles’ cartoon work outside his contract with the Express.
Grandma sells tickets for a rotary club boxing banquet wearing boxing gloves, a man is beside her holding his bruised nose.
British Cartoon Archive. All rights reserved.

GAM0343, 'Promotional letter for the Rotary Club of Ipswich 12th Annual Boxing Banquet', Ronald Carl Giles, Rotary Club of Ipswich (Feb 1978)

Giles' exclusive contract with Express prevented him doing freelance work, but he loved to draw, and it did not take him a week to produce his two cartoons for the Daily Express and one for the Sunday Express. He devoted much of his remaining time to unpaid work for charities and societies, and over the years produced a huge number of charity programme covers, decorated menus, and Christmas cards. In 1978 admitted that his three Express “cartoon days” no longer accounted for the bulk of his work: “The rest of the week is given to answering readers’ letters etc. and the endless charity drawings which I believe to be an important part of the job.” In fact, as he admitted, “I spend more time in the studio working for charities that I do earning my living.”

Much of this unpaid work was linked to Giles’ private interests. As a familiar face in pubs around Ipswich, it is not surprising that for decades he drew cartoons for the drinks trade, including menus for the Ipswich and Suffolk Licensed Trade Association, the Woodbridge and East Suffolk Licensed Victuallers’ Association, and dinners in aid of the Licensed Victuallers School. Other associations for which he regularly provided menus were the Road Haulage Association, Suffolk Constabulary CID, Ipswich Police, and the Saints and Sinners Club. Giles also produced menus for Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club, and programmes for events such as the Ipswich Carnival.

Giles was also a keen sailor, and for many years his charity work was dominated by his commitment to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). From 1970 onwards he produced a full-colour RNLI Christmas card each year. The routine was unrelenting, as discussions for the next design began only a few weeks after Christmas, and Giles was expected to complete the next full-colour design by March. But the effort was worth it, for in 1972 the RNLI sold 240,000 copies of its Giles Christmas card, and gave him a special Public Relations award for his fundraising work. His subsequent suggestion of an RNLI collecting-box shaped like Grandma - “I would gladly design one for you” - was not taken up, but his cards were a good substitute. Giles’ design for the 1980 RNLI Christmas card - Santa and his reindeer being rescued by a lifeboat - thus sold 590,000 copies and raised £50,000.  

GAM0360, 'Derby Club menu', Ronald Carl Giles, Derby Club (1972)

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