Well, folks, you’ve surpassed all expectations. I’m gobsmacked.
Back in 2017, we were given the challenge of raising enough money to buy a motorbike to enable our Kenyan colleagues to serve remote communities in the vast, arid region of Marsabit, in the north of that country. You responded brilliantly, and in February 2018 I had the privilege of presenting that bike – a Yamaha 125 – to its new owner outside Marsabit Cathedral while the congregation clapped and cheered. It is now in daily use around Sololo, near the border with Ethiopia.
Your generosity didn’t stop there. By March of this year, we were able to send a second bike to Marsabit, again enabling its user to reach far-flung villages quickly and easily.
Since then, people have continued to give, and more than once I have been surprised with cheques at the end of services. A collection at the service in May at which churchwardens were admitted to office raised over £700. At Forest School, the out-going chaplain, Paul Trathen, arranged for the collection from his last Commemoration Day service to go to this appeal, raising more than £500. And nearby, in Wanstead, bikers from the famous 59 Club brought their machines to St Mary’s open day in July, which added another £500+ to the appeal.
As a result, amazingly, after some wonderful acts of generosity from lots of you, I can announce that you’ve raised enough to send not only a THIRD bike but a FOURTH bike, too. It all feels like those Blue Peter appeals back in the 1960s, when they wanted to buy a lifeboat or a tractor or something equally good and were overwhelmed with people’s generosity. To have been able to help Marsabit with one bike was great. To be able to send a third and a fourth is just beyond my wildest hopes.
Bishop Qampicha, who leads that huge, hard-pressed diocese, was thrilled to hear the news. “May God bless each and every one of you”, he wrote. I know, from having seen Marsabit for myself, what a blessing each one of those bikes will be to the people of that region.
If you contributed to this success, let me say a big ‘thank you’ to you for sharing in this life-changing work. And if you have yet to do so, it’s not too late. The appeal for a FIFTH bike starts now. Can we do it? Yes we can!
Lots of individuals have made all this possible, of course, and it would be difficult to name them all, but I’d like to thank the following, in particular, for their support and encouragement:
The 59 Club
All Saints’, Highams Park
St Margaret’s, Ilford
St Margaret’s, Leytonstone
The Parish of Wanstead and everyone involved with St Mary’s open day
St Luke’s, Ilford
St Andrew’s, Ilford
St Edmund’s, in the East Ham team
Bishop Peter and Ellen Hill
and the clergy and churchwardens of the West Ham Archdeaconry.