John Bamford has organised the North Staffordshire Walk for the last 29 years and is close to raising £1m for Christian Aid!
John has public service is his bones. After leaving school at 18 and serving as a radiographer in Gibraltar as part of his National Service, he began working as a scout leader (8th Gibraltar Air Scout Troop). He quickly progressed to organising a large local youth group, consisting of the sons and daughters of local service men and women.
John's modus operandi for the group was the acronym PSA: Pleasant Sunday Afternoons! He believed that occupying children on Sunday afternoons was paramount as statistics showed that this tended to be when trouble occurred with bored young people! The group, which mostly met outdoors and included ‘revival’ speaking, preaching and hymn singing, was a great success.
After returning to the UK, John began his teacher training in Greater Manchester where he also worked as a Sunday School teacher. His career progressed and he became a Head of Science at a Manchester secondary school where he also enjoyed teaching Maths. Feeling called to work with disadvantaged young people, John then worked as a social worker in Moss Side, before returning to teaching, eventually taking up a Deputy Headship at St Peter’s Church of England High School in Stoke.
During his time at St Peter’s, John led assemblies and often use to speak about the theme of ‘how fortunate we are’ and only through an ‘accident of birth’ have we been fortunate to end up in a prosperous nation – equally we could have been dead at five if born elsewhere into extreme poverty.
John says: 'We should use our abilities and strengths and money to help even things us and make life fairer for all.'
After early retirement at 50, John then spent the next 20 years supply teaching. He has a daughter, Judith, and a wife, Margaret, of whom he says, 'I have a debt of gratitude for my wife of 40 years, without whose support, wisdom and practical help I could never have achieved what I have managed to do for Christian Aid.'
John’s journey with Christian Aid
John’s first efforts at fundraising were humble in comparison with the fundraising he has managed to achieve over the last 29 years with the North Staffordshire Walk!
His first £1,000 was raised via a local youth group, but he quickly progressed to becoming organiser of the Biddulph Christian Aid group. His innate knack for fundraising was soon recognised and he was eventually asked to take over ‘Newcastle Churches Together Walk’, which became the now locally famous North Staffordshire Walk.
John’s walking events averaged between £40-50k per year and his enthusiasm and commitment earned him the honour of gaining an MBE in 2006 for his extraordinary fundraising efforts. Presently, the sum he has raised stands at a staggering £968,350 and John is confident that he will tip the million pound mark on March 23 next year with the 29th North Staffordshire Walk.
John as ever is modest about his achievements: 'I get a great deal of satisfaction from making a difference to those in need. I am fortunate in that I seem to have the ability to persuade people to get involved!'
Having recently had knee surgery. John has not let this deter him from getting plans underway for the 2019 walk. He tells me that he still drums up support from his arm chair by ringing friends and supporters and this year will be no different.
'I hope that my enthusiasm can inspire others, but they have to find that enthusiasm within themselves – but I am delighted and privileged to have been able to do this fundraising. I owe a great debt to the people who have supported me over the years and who turned out on the walk, year in and year out, some of whom are very elderly or disabled.'
When asked if he wanted to see the fruits of his labour by visiting projects his fundraising has helped support John said:
'People ask me to go to Africa, but that would be a waste of resources. It is far more important for me to stay here, I don’t need to see the work, I know it is being done.'
When John met the Queen in 2006, as she was awarding him his MBE, her word of advice to John was 'keep going' – John has certainly done that in style!
Support John and help him raise £1,000,000!
Take part in the North Staffordshire Walk, Saturday 23 March 2019, Tittesworth Water, Meerbrook, Nr Leek, ST13 8SW.
By kind permission of Severn Trent Water.
Need more info? Talk to John Bamford on 01782 516 137 or Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org