This story somehow managed to get entangled with CAFOD and our Lent Fast Day. This year’s Lenten appeal has focused on water and the Government’s agreement to match what CAFOD raises, pound for pound, through the UK Aid Match funding scheme. But, in 1996, the world famous boy-band helped CAFOD cause a splash we didn’t want.
At that time, the main focus of activity for young people was the 24-hour fast. School children across the country would give something up in a particular 24-hour period and donate what they had saved to CAFOD.
My first task as press officer was to publicise Lent Fast Day. I contacted our regional offices to find any schools that might be involved. I found one in the Southwark diocese, just outside London. The local paper agreed to send a photographer and a reporter. The photographer snapped the Head Teacher and some children with CAFOD stickers on empty plates, while the reporter spoke to other children and staff. The day was a great success and everyone went home happy – especially me.
The next day, the phone in the Press Office rang off the hook. The story had made the paper, but under the headline: “SCHOOLGIRLS REFUSE TO EAT UNTIL TAKE THAT REFORM”. While the rest of the school said they were fasting for CAFOD, two girls told the reporter they were going on hunger strike until the band agreed to get back together. Continue reading