Though the fundraising total is yet to be determined, the UK-based international development charity Christian Aid has expressed gratitude for the resourcefulness of its many supporters - who stretch well beyond Britain's churches.
In the May 2007 annual money drive, Christian Aid Week, some 300,000 people put their commitment, talents and energy to work in a spectacular variety of ways to raise money and awareness for action on globval poverty, says the agency.
Thousands of supporters made their annual door-to-door – or in some cases farm-to-farm – collections across the UK, while hundreds more took part in sponsored walks around City of London churches, across the nation’s bridges and over hill and dale. Others took part in tree-planting at churches, schools and even Woodhill Prison, while yet more bought and sold books galore in the famous Edinburgh book sale at St Andrew and St George’s Church.
Enthusiastic Christian Aid supporters threw custard pies in Woodley, Berkshire, released doves in Norwich and sported a sea of red banners to the accompaniment of a Salvation Army band in Nottingham. In Flaunden, Hertfordshire, supporters held picnic while others ran a one-week-only shop in Wooler, Northumberland and cycled the equivalent of 3,000 miles around Exeter.
Tiny tots sang and toddled in Dorset and Performance Poets ran a ‘words and world’ event about climate change at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford. Meanwhile our Climate Changed campaign was debated at a question time at Oxford Town Hall; supporters dressed as ducks walked through the Cheshire countryside; and three bands – MySpoon, Relentless Craving and Rufus Garside – rocked away the evening in Blackburn while the audience learned more about our Climate Changed campaign.
Others sang gospel songs and performed samba and body percussion in Nottingham and Brighton; played a six-a-side football tournament, staged concerts, street markets and fair-trade fashion shows – even Red, an angora goat, sported a Christian Aid tabard at the Devon County Show. A motor-biking vicar, the Revd Will Adams, led a flock of 40 leather-clad cyclists around a 172-mile route of Northants, Rutland and southern Leicestershire; and Cliff Richard look-alike, Baptist pastor, Mark Chandler performed at a tribute concert in Rothley, Leicestershire.
And in case our fundraisers needed any reminder of why they were doing such extraordinary things, the answer came from Fazulhaq Fahiz, Christian Aid programme officer visiting from Herat, Afghanistan. Fazulhaq was astonished at the lengths local groups went to.
"To see such solidarity and commitment is truly humbling and inspiring," he said. "Sometimes in our work we can feel very alone and invisible, but today we have met people of all ages who are informed and passionate as we are. We shall take this experience home and share it with our colleagues and partners."
Sydney Williams, veteran supporter and organiser of the Newton Abbott sponsored walk, celebrating its 40th anniversary, showed Fazulhaq how the local group’s annual walk began.
Seventy-nine-year-old Sydney told us why he started helping Christian Aid 40 years ago: "I’m a Christian and a Methodist and I was challenged to 'do something for Christian Aid'. I was teaching and had lots of contacts with local schools, so I decided to work with the young, churchgoers and everyone else. It’s my way of giving thanks for what I have."
"All these remarkable acts of Christian witness demonstrate once again how our supporters are proving their belief in and support for Christian Aid’s work for poor communities around the world", a spokesperson declared.