Total action cards collected: 1,939 (plus one parish still uncounted) This exceeds my target of 1,550 by 389.
Number of talks given: 15
Total sponsorship received or pledged: £1,459.50 (to be doubled by UKAid match)
Number of blisters: 3
On the day before the campaign hand-in, my pilgrimage ended. But perhaps the most significant part of the walk was still to come: the walk along Downing Street to No.10.
After enjoying a celebratory pint with CAFOD Director Chris Bain and my parish priest Eddie Clare, I was welcomed to CAFOD’s offices at Romero House with a tea and cake reception.
My feeling were mixed: elation because it was over; satisfaction because I achieved what I set out to do; and expectation that the campaign would actually achieve something significant.
I was unable to join the sunrise solidarity walk, but it was in my thoughts as I got up and made my way across London to Westminster Cathedral on 15 May to form part of the impressive ‘river of change’ made up of ribbons of paper water droplets. Typically, it was raining again. The theme of the campaign was water in more ways than one.
I was amazed to discover the number and variety of Thirst for change campaign events that had been held throughout England and Wales. I was particularly impressed by the abseiling down a water tower – something I could never have done, but disappointed to hear of Becky’s injury that prevented her from finishing the Thames walk. I can easily imagine how frustrating that must have been.
And then Downing Street. I was particularly pleased that teenagers Kieran and Anna had been included in the group and was amazed that Andrew Mitchell came out just at the right time – a great culmination to a great campaign.
The real proof of the pudding will be in what comes out of the G8, something not in our control. We just wait, hope and pray.
I’d like to express a really big thank you here to all the many people who helped make the whole pilgrimage possible. They are too numerous to mention.
The help and support I received was fantastic and so many people were generous with their time, hospitality and practical support that I was truly humbled and moved as well as extremely grateful.
Here are just a few examples: bring treated as part of the family rather than an overnight guest; unexpected messages of support and good wishes; surprise accompaniment by friends along the way (some bearing “foodie” treats); parishioners putting in enormous efforts to secure as many cards signed as possible and – on a practical note – being given a pack of blister plasters and, on some days, allowed a lie in!
My final thank you however must go to my family for putting up with the hours spent in the study weeks on end planning it, for taking on the extra tasks at home during my absence, for housing me in London and generally giving me the space and support to do it. Thank you.
It was without doubt a pilgrimage during which I experienced the generosity and love of many of the Catholic community for CAFOD and the work it does. I like to think that this love was essentially going out to Esther and the other people from Zambia and Zimbabwe about whom I spoke. In fact, having told her story so many times, I feel as if I now know Esther.
It is difficult to sum up the whole thing in a word but if I had to it would be solidarity. Everybody involved in whatever way were in solidarity with each other in order to be in solidarity with Esther and the millions like her throughout the developing world.
And the biggest highlight of the lot? The fantastic grand total of 60,421 covering all the actions from around England and Wales.
So it is all over – or is it? That depends on David Cameron and what he achieves at this week’s G8. I am watching you Dave and I now know where you live!