Agnes celebrates 100th birthday…

Agnes 100

Agnes celebrating her 100th birthday with CAFOD

…and 50 years of fundraising with tea, cake and friends. Eloise Hobbs, CAFOD’s Regional News Officer, reports.

Rotherham resident, Agnes Hizzard, who was born 6 June 1918, celebrated her 100th birthday last week– after helping her parish raise thousands for charity.

Agnes Hizzard is locally famous for many things; she was the first pupil to attend St. Gerard’s Catholic Primary School which opened in 1928 and she was the first member of the parish of St. Gerard’s Church in Thrybergh.

Yet, what most people know her for is her kind heart. Over the past 50 years, she has been a member of local group the St Gerard’s Soup Slurpers.

Founded by the late Fr Peter Hurley, the group meet every week and donate the £2 cost of their lunch to the Catholic international development charity, CAFOD.  Just in the last 10 years the group has raised more than £8,000 towards CAFOD’s work to help some of the poorest communities around the world.

The Soup Slurpers is currently run by Peggy Ahmed, who is also CAFOD’s parish volunteer. She said:

St. Gerards Memorial Mass 2017

Peggy, standing up in the centre, with some of the other Soup Slurpers

“The Soup Slurpers started as after mass as every Wednesday, the elderly people in the Parish would come to mass and afterwards, we would enjoy soup and sandwiches together – that’s how it started.

“There is now raffle and bingo and about 20 people come each week. We always do a meal – and for special birthdays, when people are 60, 70, 80, we have a proper dinner with pudding and a cake. I always do the cooking.

“It is lovely for the elderly to know they are doing something once a week and I’m so glad it is a tradition that I know will be there for me.”

And the whole parish is looking forward to Agnes celebration. Peggy said:

“For Agnes’ celebration, we are having lunch and cake. We found out in January, she was going to be 100 so we decided to have a parish celebration.

“A lot of people know her, and they are coming for lots of other parishes in the area.

“Agnes is a great supporter of a lot of charities and she talks non-stop about CAFOD. She really likes it when CAFOD people come to visit and she loves talking to them.”

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CAFOD volunteers meet with our Zimbabwe Programme Officer in Dronfield.

Volunteers are at the heart of CAFOD’s work: thousands pray, speak up, and raise funds to support others overseas—all in their spare time.

CAFOD representative, Angela Powell, who has met Agnes many times over the last few years said:

“CAFOD would like to say thank you to all our volunteers and supporters, especially Agnes, who has supported us for many years.

“Our volunteers and supporters are at the heart of our work and without whom would not be able to so fully support those living in poverty around the world.

“Thank you, Agnes, our very best wishes go to you for good health and much happiness.”

Have a look at our web page to find out more about volunteering.

Sheffield comes together to Share the Journey for CAFOD

Jeremy Cain, Community Participation Coordinator for CAFOD in Hallam, reports on a great day in Sheffield.

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Angela, the event organiser, and Carmel, her daughter, setting up for the event.

It wasn’t raining and it wasn’t windy, so that was a good start; but when the Lord Mayor turned up an hour early and asked us how many people were coming, we really had no idea. Ten minutes later a text came through from Clare, our walk-leader at St. Williams, letting us know that 22 of them were on their way. Time to breathe a sigh of relief!

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Gathering on the steps for a photo for the local papers.

In the end, a rough head count said 80 people had walked and gathered in support of CAFOD’s Share the Journey campaign, but such was the upbeat atmosphere, it felt like double that number. All were welcomed on the Town Hall steps by Anne Murphy, the Lord Mayor, and then listened to local MP Louise Haigh and Mike Reynolds, chair of City Sanctuary, calling us to action.

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How many miles can we add to CAFOD’s grand total?

It brought the reason we were all here into sharp focus: around the world there are 250 million people displaced from their homes, 65 million due to violence; around half of world’s refugees are children. As Pride explained in his speech, none of these people found the decision to leave their homes easy and most have faced- and continue to face- great difficulty.

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Sheffield is the first City of Sanctuary. Hopefully the message is clear.

It seems obvious that we should respond to this situation with understanding, compassion, commitment and imagination; and that is exactly what Pope Francis is calling on world leaders to do in the run up to two global compacts on refugees and migration. By going on a walk, and using it to reflect on what being a refugee could be like, we can show our support for Pope Francis’ campaign and our solidarity with those who we hope it will benefit.

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Anyone can share the journey

So please seriously consider getting involved. Can you organise a walk in your parish or local school? Can you and a couple of friends go out walking for the afternoon and let us know how many miles you do? Could you just walk to church one Sunday? It doesn’t have to be anything big or difficult to plan, and we’re here to help, so please get in touch.

Right now, we’d love you to sign our petition. It’s calling on the Prime Minister to:

  • respect human dignity;
  • protect the vulnerable;
  • support host countries;
  • keep families together;
  • tackle the reasons why people migrate.

And you could also order some action cards from us to encourage people in your parish or at work to give us their support, even if they can’t go on a walk. The more people who call, the louder our voice.

Many thanks to everyone who came on Saturday; we think we added 185 miles to the grand total and, more importantly, raised the profile of the campaign at the civic level. When people come together, it always has an impact; as Catholics, we believe that, no matter where we come from, we are all connected as children of God. Let’s Share the Journey and show that we care.