• Save The Children

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    20 November 2015

    Recently I attended a great fundraiser in Cheriton Fitzpaine.

    My thanks to all the volunteers who helped out – whether making the cakes and jam to sell, organising the raffle or providing the cream teas – all made a big contribution to a busy community event that was fun as well as worthy.

    All proceeds went to the Save the Children Fund. This remarkable charity raises £300 million a year. Its work in 120 countries is vital.

    In 2014 Save the Children responded to 84 humanitarian crises in 54 countries. Much of the charitiy's work is focused on emergency aid and this has included assisting children in West African countries afflicted with ebola and those caught up in war-torn Syria.

    The ebola virus has infected around 30,000 people in West Africa, resulting in well over 10,000 deaths and around 5,000 children have lost one or both of their parents as a consequence.

    The challenge on the ground has been enormous with often very limited resources – in Liberia, for example, in early 2014 there was only one doctor per 100,000. That's the equivalent of a single doctor covering the whole of our constituency of Central Devon.

    The effect of ebola is not just one of health but also education. It has resulted in a vast number of school closures with around 3.5 million children in West Africa affected. And, as we know, education is one of the key ways in which people can navigate their way out of poverty.

    In Syria more than ten million people have been displaced due to civil war. Save the Children is running support services in a number of countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and within Syria itself. 'Back to school' campaigns are encouraging a re-engagement with education. Last year food was distributed to more than 84,000 people in Za'atari camp. Much has also been done to provide blankets, mattresses and tarpaulins for shelter – vital in winter.

    The Save the Children Fund was created in London in 1919 by Eglantyne Jebb and her sister Dorothy Buxton. It was good to see their work continuing to be supported in Cheriton Fitzpaine today.


    At the time of writing the dreadful news of the attacks in Paris has just broken. The death toll appears to be in excess of 150 and the immediate effect on France has been one of shock and the temporary lockdown of her borders.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering as a result of these cowardly acts.

    I have often written in my column about the direct dangers of this kind of terrorism to our own country, pressing the argument that we must not flinch from providing our security services with the tools they need to use in the digital age to ensure that terrorists can be tracked down and these kind of attacks prevented.

    The events in Paris last week underline this and I will be fully supporting the Home Secretary's security bill as it goes through parliament.