Clergymen sitting outside churches in the run up to Christmas is a bit of a Northern Ireland tradition! Buried deep in the job description to be Dean of St Anne’s Cathedral is a week long stint standing over a collection barrel in near zero temperatures outside the Belfast church. Yet over the years each incumbent in the post speaks of the warmth they feel as motorists pull up alongside the pavement and pedestrians make a beeline to add their donations to the millions of pounds raised over the 39 years of the appeal.
In the run up to Christmas 2015, three clergy in Eglinton (a village five miles north east of Derry/Londonderry) camped out in a container outside the village credit union to highlight the living conditions of Syrian refugees.
Faughanvale Rector Rev Paul Hoey, Eglinton Presbyterian Minister Rev Lindsay Blair and Faughanvale priest Fr Noel McDermott took it in turns to collect donations for Tearfund and Trócaire, and a total of £5,600 was shared equally between the two charities who work on the ground in Syria and neighbouring countries.