Jim Carter, popularly known as Mr Carson for his role in the movie Downtown Abbey, is in Nepal with a mission to put back smiles in the faces of quake affected children of Nepal. Jim is visiting Nepal with the WandAid initiative , which brings the joy of magic to natural disaster victims. Producing a few red sponge balls from his bag of tricks, he watches the youngsters gasp, then burst into laughter, as they magically multiply in his hands. He says: “Laughter is healthy, it’s normal. It takes these kids out of their gloom and desperation, if only for a moment. It brings people together and lets them know that we haven’t forgotten them, that we care enough to come up here and visit them.”
Carter, 67, who started his acting career in his early 20s, has taken an initiative to reach out and help people in the disaster zones along with the Downtown Abbey producer Liz Trubridge and Linda Cruse. WandAid brings together magicians to conjure up a little happiness for the survivors of natural disasters. Linda and Jim wanted to use their magic potential to spread positivity and help others selflessly. He says: “If you just went in and did a couple of tricks for a day, that would just be silly. But that’s backed up by hard work towards recovery in these places. I’d be very embarrassed to think of me as this clown amusing people if they still didn’t have food or water or roofs over their heads.”
Born and raised in Harrogate, North Yorks, Jim now lives in northwest London with his wife, actress Imelda Staunton, 60. The couple’s daughter, Bessie, 22, is also in the acting business. He starred in films like A Private Function, alongside Downton co-star Maggie Smith, Brassed Off and Shakespeare in Love, before becoming a household name in 2010. But he says his high-profile turn as Mr Carson would be worth little if it didn’t allow him to help good causes.
Carter has just returned from a trip to the US, where he raised a total of £70,000 for WandAid with guest appearances and charity auctions. “It would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t capitalise on that for a good cause,” he says of the celebrity status that Downton has brought him. Carter stayed in Nepal for three days and visited Kapan Monastery, Deupur Village, etc. While visiting Kapan monastery, Jim met Harka, a 10 year homeless boy whose arms were amputated after he accidently grabbed a fallen power cable. Harka was abandoned by his parents as they wouldn’t want to bear the hardship of raising a disabled child. Jim and Linda contributed £60 a month to get him the help he needs to go to school – and Jim performed some tricks – Harka roared with laughter. Then the little boy performed his own mini miracle, producing some pencils and using his feet to draw intricate illustrations on a piece of paper.
It’s a moving moment, one which makes Jim realise how much more needs to be done to help children like Harka. “It’s a year since the earthquakes and already these people have been forgotten. The disaster happens and it’s spotlighted, then the attention goes away, but the problems don’t,” he says. He added, “You just need to come to Nepal to see it with your own eyes. But it is great to come here and see things like this, how the money’s spent and, hopefully, leave them with some happy memories as well.”