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70 Years of Christian Aid

May 2015

Head of Christian Aid Scotland, Kathy Galloway, reflects on her own early experiences of Christian Aid, and the lifelong dedication of many Christian Aid supporters. 

Anne Booth-Clibborn and Shona Brown holding signs  

Early memories

Though I didn't become a staff member till a few years ago, I consider that I've been part of Christian Aid since I was a teenager. And that wasn’t yesterday!

As part of a church youth group in Oxgangs, Edinburgh, collecting during Christian Aid Week and supporting a Christian Aid youth project in Burkina Faso were my earliest encounters with the reality of global poverty.

It confronted our group of Scottish teenagers with the deep inequality and unfairness of the economic systems that dominated the world we lived in.

And the visit of some young people from Burkina Faso gave us the realisation that the only difference that really mattered between us and them was that they lived in a situation of extreme poverty and we did not. It was my first experience of the importance of standing beside, and standing up for, people living on the wrong side of an ill-divided world.

Dedicated support

But my length of involvement with Christian Aid is short compared to that of some of our most dedicated supporters.

Anne Booth-Clibborn, pictured above, was in Germany as a 19-year old army ambulance driver in 1945. She recently wrote: "Nothing that I had seen in London prepared me for the devastation of whole cities, or the roads and railways clogged up with refugees...'

For Anne, the response of the British churches to this overwhelming need after VE Day was the catalyst for her ongoing involvement with Christian Aid throughout its whole history, including 13 years as a member of Christian Aid's board of trustees.

During this time, Anne says, 'more and more we saw we had to move from simple relief to tackling the causes of poverty; that we had to educate people over issues like fair trade; that our publicity had to emphasise partnership and not dependency; and underpinning it all was Biblical and worship material drawing on our partners' gifts.'

Since that time, many people from Scotland have given dedicated and informed service as Christian Aid trustees, including Lady Marion Fraser, who chaired the Board from 1990 to 1997, and the present trustees, Morag Mylne, an Edinburgh advocate, and Very Rev Alan McDonald from St Andrews.

Local fundraising

But equally vital to the work of Christian Aid is that done every year by tens of thousands of hardworking, creative and cheerful local volunteers, who have raised many millions of pounds over the years with their fundraising efforts.

Volunteers like Theodor Davidovic from Fife, who, as a refugee, was fed in the camps by Christian Aid for two and a half years.

'Christian Aid helped me to survive, and I feel I owe my life to Christian Aid. I vowed then to do my best for Christian Aid, and I’m still doing it', he says, and he still grows plants to sell in support of his church's fundraising efforts.

What a testimony! What a way of saying thank you!

Or Douglas Tucker, who, in his nineties, still does the Tay Bridge Cross, now in his wheelchair.

Or the 500 volunteers who have built an amazing community and raised £2 million around the annual Book Sale in St Andrews and St George’s West Church, led by the remarkable drive and passion for Christian Aid's work of Lady Mary Davidson.

Or the people who organise the bridge crosses, book sales, coffee mornings, lunches, craft sales, concerts and numerous sponsored events all across Scotland.

And all the folk who still get out into their communities every year and go house to house with red envelopes to raise money for the world's poorest people. And who raise up prayer for them, and for us. You are all extraordinary!

The next generation

And it's great to know that young people too are making a huge contribution. Like me when I was young, they are learning about the scandal of preventable poverty worldwide, and being inspired by Christian Aid to get involved.

From our very youngest supporters, like five-year old Shona Brown, pictured above, to the numerous children learning at school about the poverty and upheaval caused by climate change, unjust systems and conflicts, they also want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

As part of our marking of our 70th anniversary, Christian Aid Scotland has set itself a major challenge - to climb 70 Munros (Scottish mountains over 3000 feet) and to raise £70,000 in sponsorship money by doing so.

So it's good to report that the then Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Right Rev John Chalmers, along with many others, raised thousands of pounds for our Nepal Earthquake appeal by climbing Ben Lomond recently.

But it's also good to know that Rachel Hutcheson, the Moderator of the Youth Assembly, was also on the climb, as she has been on others.

We need all our supporters, and we need the ones who will take Christian Aid on into the future to be inspired, and to inspire others. We make the road by walking it.

Find out more about Christian Aid at 70

Explore the history of Christian Aid with our interactive timeline.

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