Fr Martin Magill and I are absolutely thrilled with todays big announcement in the Belfast Telegraph of the total donated to our BIG 60TH BIRTHDAY FUND RAISE FOR EMBRACE NI... drum roll... not £1000 or £3000, not even £5000 or £7000 BUT £9,050!!!!
We are over the moon and a little overwhelmed. I'll be honest. Although in our first press releases we spoke about reaching £1000 I would have been disappointed with anything less than £3,500 BUT to reach £9000 is way beyond our wildest dreams.
When I think of life's achievements, as you do when you reach 60, this has to be way up there with some of the best of mine. To be able to use our birthdays to raise money for the emergency fund of Embrace NI at a time when we will be expecting Afghanistan Refugees to arrive with us here in Northern Ireland. I cannot imagine doing anything more constructive with a birthday or the rest of my life for that matter!
Can I first thank Martin for the idea. He suggested it to me in a phone call in late July and in August we had a long walk around Ballycastle Forest pondering how and who to? We did a lot of research and talked to a lot of people before we arrived at Embrace NI.
We wanted what we thought would be our small contribution to make a difference. We wanted to fund raise for an organisation not getting lots of funding from elsewhere. We wanted it to have a Jesus centred ethos that we live by. We wanted it to be cross denominational. We wanted it to be making a real difference in our world, but locally.
We thank Embrace for coming on board and their admin Tracey for giving us our weekly total as kept on rising.
We thank the local press. All the papers wrote articles. BBC Radio Ulster had us in. Claire McNeilly at the Belfast Telegraph gave us a lot of space and so we made sure that it was her who first declared the total in today's paper.
Most of all we want to thank everybody who contributed. As a result of the way the money was donated we cannot get access to your names. So it will have to be one big general thank you. So whoever you are and why ever you gave to a Catholic Priest and Presbyterian minister for our BIG 60th BIRTHDAY FUND RAISE... THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
Don't leave it there. Check out Embrace NI and watch how the money raised will be used to help refugees in these next days, months and years.