The Norfolk and Norwich Christian community website

Paul B and Malcolm G
Paul recognised for his commitment to Christian Aid 

Norwich Christian Paul Binney has been awarded a Christian Aid Diamond Certificate for his outstanding commitment to helping people living in poverty. The certificate was signed by Dr Rowan Williams and presented by poet priest Malcolm Guite at his performance in Norwich Cathedral.

Paul Binney, who attends Chapel Field Road Methodist Church tells his story:

‘I was already a committed supporter of Christian Aid when I came to teach English at the City of Norwich School in 1970, worshipping with my wife and family at Chapel Field Road Methodist Church.  I soon encouraged more people to collect from house to house, expanding the areas we covered to include affluent roads in the Newmarket Road area as well as council houses on the Larkman Estate.  Significantly, envelopes full of back-pocket change from the latter often amounted to more than considered gifts from the former, a testimony to the work of Margaret Finch, then Head Teacher of Larkman Primary School, who taught the children about the work of Christian Aid in improving the health and welfare of people in poverty-stricken countries.

"On my retirement from teaching in 2003, I fulfilled a long-held ambition to read aloud in church the whole of the King James version of the Bible, including the Apocrypha.  I invited people to support me by choosing their favourite passage and explaining the reason for their choice, asking them to send a donation for Christian Aid.  Whenever I reached a dedicated passage, I would pause to announce who had chosen it and why.  It took me four weeks of Mondays to Fridays, 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, to complete the marathon.  Sometimes people dropped in to listen for a while; often I was reading to an empty church.  Dedications came from local people but also, as the word spread, from all over the country, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and members of the Cabinet.  The grand total raised amounted to £3,775.

After the death of Esther, my wife, in 2004 l published a book of my poetry called ‘Learning the Language’, the proceeds of sales donated to Christian Aid.  I enjoy giving poetry readings to groups in Norwich and Norfolk, illustrating the poems with photographs which complement the words.  The fee which they normally give to their speakers I pass on to Christian Aid for their work in a particular area of need; often either the UK government or the European Union will match-fund this donation, making it even more effective.

“But I’m not confident to read aloud.  I can’t write poetry,” you’re thinking?  Perhaps not, but you can cut somebody’s grass, make a delicious chocolate cake, wash a car, arrange flowers beautifully, do some baby-sitting?  Whatever your God-given talents, why not put them to use in some imaginative way to support the work of Christian Aid?"

Julian Bryant, Christian Aid’s Norfolk Coordinator said, "Paul is someone who is a great role model for others. Through Christian Aid he has consistently served people living in poverty for 50 years. I am sure that has not always been an easy thing to do. He is an inspiration."

If you want to get involved helping people through Christian Aid contact Julian Bryant on jbryant@christianaid.org or https://www.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-week

Picture: Malcolm Guite presents a Diamond Award to Paul Binney (on right) at Norwich Cathedral. Photo credit: Christian Aid

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