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Ann Meakin Martham 640CF

Christian Aid award for Martham volunteer

2017: A Martham Christian has been presented with an award from Christian Aid for her commitment to making a difference to those living in poverty. 

Ann Meakin of St Mary the Virgin Church in Martham was presented with the Diamond Award by Julian Bryant at the church on Sunday July 23.
Julian, Norfolk’s Regional Coordinator for Christian Aid said, ’What impresses me to much about Ann is her ongoing commitment to making a difference to people living in desperate poverty. She has been doing this for over 47 years. That has resulted in many lives being helped and literally saved. She was nominated by a local resident to receive this award which is signed by Dr Rowan Williams.’
Ann tells her story:
‘A little while ago, someone asked me how long I had been organizing the Christian Aid collection.  I said that I really had no idea because it was so long ago that I could not remember when I did not do it.  Amazingly, a few months ago a collection of ancient church magazines was presented to me.  They dated back to 1969 and there, in 1970, I read that I had volunteered to organize the Christian Aid house to house collection in my village – Martham.
At that time, the numerous churches and chapels around here held meetings as ‘The North Flegg Fellowship of Churches’.  This ecumenical group was keen to do things together, and raising money for Christian Aid was one of them.  The local clergy were enthusiastic and so were an energetic band of lay people.  Not much changed for several years but inevitably people moved on and the people who came had different responsibilities and enthusiasms and priorities, and parishes were reorganised into different benefices.  I continued to organize the Christian Aid house to house collection in Martham.  Well, why wouldn’t I?
Our village has changed dramatically too.  We now have numerous new housing estates, so we do not know as many people as well as we used to, although collecting is an opportunity to meet them and to be seen as active Christians in the community.  Other villages were added to our Benefice and people have willingly organized events there too.
I continued to organize the house to house collection in Martham but other fund-raising fell by the wayside.  With a full-time job, I had not time to do more.  This continued until about 1989 when some people thought that it would be simpler to distribute envelopes and ask people to leave their contributions at various collecting points.  The amount donated was a tiny fraction of what had been previously given, so it was agreed that I should continue to organize a house to house collection and this I have been able to do ever since. 
When Christian Aid Week is approaching I have to screw up my courage to start asking new people to be collectors.  I hate doing that.  Very few people have actually volunteered their help.  Many of the regular collectors have willingly done the same roads for many years and know the people well with encouraging results. 
But why do I do it?  I am so very thankful that I live in safety in such a wonderful part of the world that I feel that organising a Christian Aid collection is the least I can do to express my gratitude.
As Christ died a ghastly death on a cross for me how can I be reluctant to get out of my comfort zone and go make a minor sacrifice of my time and energy for Him?   I also read the information that comes to me through the post telling of the awful plights of people in developing countries and the appalling conditions they endure, and feel that I must play my part in taking some positive action to alleviate their problems.
Nowadays, with so many people displaying ‘no cold calling’ notices, we attach small slips of paper to the envelopes saying when we plan to call and asking people to leave the envelope outside if they do not want to give.  This works well and often people are very trusting and leave money outside too. 
There is the fun side as well.  Over the years I have collected in numerous local streets and enjoyed seeing the wonderful plants growing in people’s gardens.  When I worked, we used to have a counting party round our dining room table on the first Monday after Christian Aid Week.  One of the people, counting, worked in a bank and took all the money there the next day.  Now we count on the first Monday morning and take our money to a helpful local post office.
I am an octogenarian now, but I will continue organizing as long as I feel that God has a job for me to do.’
If you would like to nominate someone for a Christian Aid Diamond Certificate for their commitment to helping people living in poverty please contact Julian Bryant at: jbryant@christian-aid.org
Pictured above are Julian Bryant and Ann Meakin at St Mary the Virgin Church, Martham.

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