The Presbyterian community of Ballybay raised almost €12,000 for international aid agency Christian Aid Ireland with their recent coffee morning and sale. Their fundraising efforts over more than half a century has made them one of the charity’s most generous congregations on the island of Ireland.
The event, which was held in Second Ballybay Presbyterian Church Hall on 14 May, 2022 was the collective effort of four Presbyterian churches, locally, to support the charity’s Christian Aid Week appeal which this year focuses on Zimbabwe. There, in the drought-affected east of the country where drought has brought crop failure and hunger, the agency has enabled almost 30,000 people to earn a living despite declining rainfall, including by helping female farmers make the switch to growing drought-resistant plants such as hibiscus which can be sold to make herbal tea.
The tea served at the Ballybay fundraiser was of the ‘normal’ variety and there were home-made sweet treats on offer for the more than 150 people who attended. There were also cakes and jam to take home for later, as well as stalls selling plants and second-hand books. The proceeds of the coffee morning and sale were boosted by a number of large donations made by – and elicited by – members of the congregation.
It was a welcome return for the event which has been held every May for more than half a century, interrupted only by the Covid pandemic. But even during the two lockdown years, the fundraising continued as one local woman – Nan Bradford from Rockcorry – completed solo sponsored walks which brought in more than €7,000 to support relief efforts, with a handful of large donations pushing the total even higher.
Nan, who works at a local mushroom farm, enjoyed her lockdown walking but was pleased to swap her hiking boots for her baking bowl this year – just one of around 20 home bakers whose efforts helped to draw in the crowds. She added: “I was delighted to see the coffee morning and sale return after Covid. It’s become a fixture in the town’s calendar and is supported by the whole community. I think it’s important to raise money for Christian Aid because of all the good it does. We’re very lucky in this country. We’re really blessed.”
The Presbyterian churches behind the event are 1st and 2nd Ballybay, Rockcorry and Drumkeen which have a combined membership of around 160 families. The fundraiser was organised by a team of people drawn from the four churches.
Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett, who has family ties to Ballybay, dropped in on this year’s coffee morning and sale and afterwards paid tribute to the exceptional generosity of the people of Ballybay: She said, “I’m very proud and really touched by the kindness of the people of Ballybay who show such extraordinary love for people across the world facing extreme poverty, struggling with the impact of conflict and the consequences of the climate crisis. Our work to bring hope in these desperate situations is only possible because of the dedication of people like our Ballybay supporters and all those who give so generously to support their fundraising efforts.”
Christian Aid relies on public donations to carry out its emergency relief and long-term development work. For more information and to donate to support our work, please visit https://caweek.ie/Donate or telephone 00353 1 496 7040 to make a telephone donation.