Hundreds of children from across Cambridge joined CAFOD volunteer Fred Uttley, as he cycled through East Anglia to raise money that will help hungry farmers in Bangladesh.
Extreme hunger continues to be one of the most challenging problems in the world today. Tonight, children will go to bed hungry not knowing if they will get a decent meal when they wake up. When Fred and his friend Mark arrived in Cambridge, they explained how you and I can help.
Chronic hunger is a big problem that affects people far away. Although in this country more people are turning to foodbanks most of us have enough to eat, and sometimes too much. We may have enough food on our plate, but it isn’t as easy as it should be to share what we have with people living across the world, in places like Rajshahi in Bangladesh where even the farmers don’t have enough to feed their families.
When Fred heard that one-in-eight people in the world are unable to feed themselves properly, he was moved to do something to help. Fred, a CAFOD volunteer in Salford, and his friend Mark Brown, arrived in our diocese after cycling over 800 miles around England and Wales.
Although cycling is a way of life for us in Cambridge, this was a massive challenge for Fred, a 68-year-old great grandfather had not cycled for over 50 years. He wanted to reach all 22 Catholic diocese of England and Wales, and so set off two weeks ago, cycling over 1,000 miles to encourage people to join CAFOD’s Hunger for Change campaign.
On Monday 24 June, Fred and Mark arrived at St Bede’s Inter-Church School in Cherry Hinton, Cambridge. He cycled into the sports hall and 160 Year-7 pupils greeted him. Fred is an ordinary bloke with a deep Burnley accent doing an extra-ordinary thing. He’s cycling over 1,000 miles because he really wants to help people who, for no fault of their own, don’t have enough to eat.
As Fred spoke about the farmers in Bangladesh, who don’t have much land of their own, but are typical of most farmers in the world, Mark explained how when he heard what Fred wanted to do, he simply had to do what he could to help, and so joined him on his cycling tour.
To support Fred and Mark, the children at St Bede’s each wrote a message to the Prime Minister, asking him to do more to support small-scale farmers so they can feed their families and communities. Wearing an ‘Enough Food for Everyone’ wristband, they each took an action card home, agreeing to share the message and encourage others to write to David Cameron as part of the Hunger for Change campaign.
With one kilometre to go to complete Stage 17 from London to Cambridge we reached St Mary’s Girls School (Juniors). Word of Fred’s arrival quickly spread and after lunch the whole school gathered to hear about Fred’s journey and learn about the people in Bangladesh that the money Fred raises will help. The girls had already used CAFOD’s school resources and so they knew about how many people were living with extreme hunger and they were very interested in what Fred said. They agreed to give some of the money they raise to Fred, making and selling friendship bracelets to help the Rajshahi farmers.
Fred and Mark completed their journey (Stage 17 from London to Cambridge) when they arrived at St Alban’s Junior School. The children here already knew about the Hungry for Change campaign and during Holy Week, creating a public art installation that challenged people to not waste food. For our visit, the pupils created some wonderful pictures of Fred and Mark, they made bunting with pendants reflecting their concern for world hunger.
That evening, the parishioners of Our Lady and the English Martyrs and members of the Cambridge Justice and Peace group gave Fred and Mark to a simple shared supper. Encouraging the group with their campaigning, Fred gave his fourth talk of the day – an additional challenge on top of the miles he was cycling simply to get there. The evening concluded with a raffle that raised £100 for Fred’s funds.
The next morning, Fred and Mark began Stage 18 of their grand tour with an assembly at St Laurence Primary School. The pupils presented Fred with a cheque for £400 that they had generously raised for CAFOD.
To prepare for their arrival, the children had set off on their own challenge the week before, cycling 30 miles, some cycling in relays with other class-mates, to cover the distance that Fred and Mark were cycling through East Anglia. They completed their final mile with Mark and Fred as Stage 18 from Cambridge to Northampton began.
After covering some serious miles against the clock to get to St Neots in time, Fred, Mark and Stephen (CAFOD’s diocesan manager) arrived at St Joseph’s Parish in time for the midday rosary group. The group were praying for Fred and Mark on their tour through East Anglia.
When they took us to lunch at the café across the road we talked about the journey and the people of Bangladesh. Hearing what Fred and Mark were doing, the group were determined to help by giving money. Two of St Joseph’s parishioners, neither of whom has much money, were in the café treating themselves to lunch. When they heard that we were raising money for people who couldn’t feed themselves, they each donated a pound.
You can still sponsor Fred at www.justgiving.com/tourdefred.