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Faith, Hope and Charity

Having posted my first blog for a while, I was wondering what the subject of today’s post would be. As has happened so often in the past, the decision was made by a story that's recently been splattered across the front of newspapers:

Britain’s oldest Poppy Seller found dead in gorge


Image Credit | Bristol Post

This vulgar sensationalism hid the human cost of Olive Cooke, who had been raising money for the armed forces for 76 years and had allegedly been driven to the point of despair by a thief and a gang of bullies.

If I’d known of Olive before her death she would have received my admiration. Her father served in the First World War and she became a war widow in the second. The reason why she'd continued to sell poppies was because “It is important to remember the people who died in the wars, and are still dying now”. This attitude resulted in her being awarded a Points of Light award in November 2014 within the first year of its introduction to Britain.

The irony isn’t lost on me that a woman who'd won awards, accolades and respect, fell to her death in the Avon Gorge from a bridge that would not have been commissioned without the charitable donation of a Bristol wine merchant. Or that the perpetrators behind her demise, should now mirror this feat of Victorian engineering and hang their heads in shame at the result of their suggested actions.

Prior to my child caring break, and made affordable by the career I’d established, I gladly set up monthly direct debit payments to a number of charities. Leaving a well-paid job and career behind, meant I had to consider my options on this matter. Although I proudly (and discreetly) continued with payments, the regular mail-shots asking for more money became so upsetting that I had to write to ask them to stop.

At that time, there wasn't the deviously confusing tick the box/don’t tick the box small print to stop unwanted correspondence and I had to add a list of ‘please stop’ letters/phone calls to all the other tasks involved in caring for little and baby giants. And yes, I would feel guilty and upset because I couldn't prove that I wanted to help the near death child in the photograph, who needed MY help.

These emotionally charged blackmailing tactics continued. In the run up to Christmas, how many of you have received holly decorated address stickers as a ‘goodwill gesture’ in a carefully worded mailshot? Or have cursed at a pen stuffed into a charity envelope which forces you to open it (and glance over the unsubtle pleading within) before being able to discard it in the box marked junk mail?

It wasn't so long ago, walking down London’s busy Regent Street that I considered hitting my Vine app to film and post bib wearing charity workers harassing people to sign up and donate. My six second microblogging contemplation passed as my thoughts diverted to a similar scenario on Goodge Street, less than two hours before. 


Image Credit | Watford Observer

In that case I’d been accosted by a Cancer Research chugger – but I've been pestered by the equal cajoling/bullying representatives of Save the Children, UNICEF, the British Heart Foundation and Oxfam (not an exhaustive list). 

Surely the self-regulated Public Fundraising Regulatory Association should now consider their effectiveness in curbing the floating of rules that are meant to protect the public? Because, on both of my recent London encounters, the chuggers were jumping backwards and forwards, defying the nonsensical ‘three step’ and 3 metre rule.  

How can the fundraising departments of these charities justify the intrusion of privacy? Not only by stalking individuals on the street but by eradicating the actions that led to a 92 year old philanthropist to lose her faith in people, to such an extent, that she took her own life? How poignant it is that it is a year since I posted a blog on the death of Martin Hadfield.

I'd like to have the faith and hope that each and every charity considers the scruples of actions that are linked, together with the worst type of thief, with the death of the benevolent and courageous Olive Cooke. 

May she rest in peace and be remembered with pride.


Dedicated to the family, friends and fans of Ian Curtis (1956-1980)

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