Hand of Hope

16 June 2020

A charitable initiative created and funded by Luxury Branding that harnesses the power of communal song to raise funds to combat COVID-19.

An Anthem to Mark an Unprecedented Moment

What do you do when you work in the hospitality industry during a global pandemic? Create a Coronavirus Anthem to raise funds for vaccine development.

During the pandemic, there was a moment of pause for the Luxury Branding team. But this didn’t stop the drive, ambition and desire to keep working.

Inspired by public acts of solidarity – notably Clap for the NHS – and the resilient creativity of culture in quarantine, Piers Schmidt and Nigel Short conceived the idea of creating a rallying anthem to raise funds for research. They named it Hand of Hope.

Scientific researchers urgently needed flexible, fast-response funding to help advance their work – not just on developing a vaccine but also in many other critical areas such as antibodies and immune response. As foremost in the endeavour to understand and beat the coronavirus (COVID-19), the University of Oxford was our beneficiary of choice.

The Hand of Hope poem was written by Alexander McCall Smith, one of the world’s most prolific and best-loved authors. The text was set to Gustav Holst’s stirring tune – I Vow To Thee, My Country.

Led by Artistic Director Nigel Short, the anthem was recorded in lockdown by 19 singers from world-renowned chamber choir Tenebrae. The organ track was performed by James Sherlock on the magnificent instrument of Holmens Kirke, Copenhagen. South African soprano Vuvu Mpofu recorded a beautiful solo in a studio in Port Elizabeth.

The anthem raised thousands of pounds, which contributed to the funding that enabled the University of Oxford to respond rapidly to the crisis and get the AstraZeneca vaccine to clinical trials by April.

This moving anthem of courage and optimism is a reminder that we all have a part to play, not only to solve the current crisis but to plan for a better, more equitable future.


Luxury Branding is a strategic advisor specialising in generating sustainable brand value. Its principal experience is in the ultra-competitive premium segments of the tourism, travel, hospitality and residential real estate sectors.1

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With a unique blend of ‘calculated creativity’,
Luxury Branding helps ambitious organisations to define and express how they are special, different, and better: special for their affluent customers, different and better than the competition.2

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Piers Schmidt and Ian R Douglas of Phoenix Global are the co-founders of Kingham Leigh.
This dynamic new partnership has been created to design, develop and operate innovative hospitality projects in Europe and beyond.3

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