The Last Shilling

on 05 October 2015

Mollie Petrie, a client of leading Bristol financial planners Ovation Finance Ltd, is 94 years old. She enjoyed a highly successful career as an international singing coach and garnered an international reputation sufficient to allow her the freedom of Covent Garden Opera House.


Mollie grew up in a poor family in Newcastle. Her father worked in a munitions factory, and as such was not allowed to sign up as a soldier in the First World War. To avoid accusations of cowardice, such individuals were given a Tommy’s Shilling coin.


When Mollie was a girl her musical talent was identified, and she was offered a scholarship to a special music college. However, she needed to get a train to the interview.  Unfortunately, her mother did not have any money to give her for the fare. Mollie would therefore not be able to get to the interview, and wouldn’t go to music college.


Mollie told her mother that she knew where there was one last shilling in the house. It was in her mother’s ‘jewellery box’. Her mother had no jewellery, but kept the box anyway.


This was, of course, the Tommy’s Shilling belonging to her father, which he could present to people to prove that he was not a coward. When her father got back from work, Mollie asked him if it would be alright to use this shilling for the train fare.  Of course it would be alright, said her father, Mollie should have the coin because going to college was important.


It was, quite literally, the last shilling her family owned. There were no credit cards, there were no overdrafts and there was no other money.


Luckily for Mollie, she passed the interview, attended music college, and went on to coach many of the world’s finest singers. But only because of that last shilling.


Since 2000 Ovation Finance Ltd has been advising clients like Mollie (although most are considerably younger!). They ask questions of their clients such as ‘how much is enough’ and ‘what does money mean to you’. They use their knowledge of areas such as tax, pensions, investments to formulate a financial plan and make the most of the wealth that their clients have accumulated.


Interestingly enough, one shilling back in 1920 would today be worth just £1.90 – lagging somewhat behind the increase in the price of train fares! Which simply goes to highlight the importance of making sure those investments work hard and are regularly reviewed.

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