Jean Thompson, a Bangor, Co. Down volunteer, who raised tens of thousands for Christian Aid to help the world’s poorest people, has stepped down from her role after 29 years.
Jean has been Christian Aid Ireland’s representative at First Bangor Presbyterian Church since 1993, during which time the church has raised approximately £75,000 to support the organisation’s work across the world.
Her fundraising at First Bangor involved church collections as well as a weekly coffee bar after the Sunday service when members would enjoy a hot drink and a treat in exchange for a donation. And each May during Christian Aid Week, Jean would carry out a house-to-house collection in Bangor, assisted by a group of collectors which included her husband Andy and their friend Maisie Burton.
Jean, who is from Ballymena originally, has lived in Bangor since her marriage in 1968. She and Andy have two adult sons. Last year she went public with her decision to leave a gift to Christian Aid in her Will, in the hope of inspiring others to follow her example.
Besides her fundraising, Jean has also been a Christian Aid activist, taking part in three successful campaigns. Her voice was part of the chorus that helped to bring fair trade products onto supermarket shelves, cancelled billions of pounds of developing countries’ debt and introduced climate change legislation to curb the emissions that are bringing hunger and hardship to some of the world’s poorest countries.
Jean explained why she gave her time and money to support Christian Aid’s work: “I’m passionate about Christian Aid because they help everyone who needs it – it doesn’t matter what religion they are.”
Christian Aid Ireland’s Church and Community Manager, Dave Thomas paid tribute to Jean’s incredible commitment: “For almost 30 years, Jean has generously given her time and money to support Christian Aid’s work to bring hope and justice to the world’s poorest people. It’s only with the support of dedicated volunteers like Jean that we can stand alongside people caught up in desperate situations.”
Replacing Jean as Christian Aid’s representative at First Bangor Presbyterian Church is Natalie Kelly.
Find out more about the work of Christian Aid Ireland on their website.