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Top TV stars donate to British Red Cross shops in support of Clean Start Appeal

5 February 2015

Actress and author Sheila Hancock paid a visit to her local Red Cross shop in Hammersmith with a suitcase full of books. The generous donation included signed copies of her recently-published first novel, ‘Miss Carter’s War’ and ‘The Two of Us’, her poignant biography of her life with the late John Thaw.

Sheila said: “When this project came up, which targets specifically the problem of lack of clean water, it struck me as something really necessary to bring to the public’s notice. I like the idea of doing something for people in Bangladesh and Kenya. Since I heard your statistics on the lack of safe water in these countries, every time I turn on my tap, I think I should be grateful for this.”

“It is so easy for us to take clean water for granted.  When you think of the suffering a lack of it causes, this is a really great way of tackling it.”

Hammersmith shop manager Pauline Burke said: “It was great fun having Sheila visit today and we are so grateful to her for her generous donation. I’m sure these books will sell quickly and I hope she will inspire people to dig out the things they don’t use and drop them round to us.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of London, actress and comedian Victoria Wood popped in to the Red Cross shop in Palmer’s Green to donate a range of items including a framed poster of singing legend, Nat King Cole.

Victoria has been fond of the charity since she appeared as a Red Cross shop volunteer in her BAFTA-winning film ‘Housewife, 49’ (2007). She wrote and starred in the film based on the diaries of Nella Last, whose wartime voluntary work transformed her from a lonely, unhappily married introvert into a lively, fulfilled backbone of her community. The film has also been adapted into a stage play.

Victoria said: “I was attracted to support the Clean Start campaign as I’ve been to several African countries and I’ve seen just the difference it can make if people have clean water. We really are so lucky to live in a country where we have water that we can drink from a tap.”

“Most people in this country have too much stuff – it’s very cleansing to get rid of things and pass them on to other people – all for this campaign.”

Palmer’s Green shop manager Kathy Simpson said: “I was great to meet Victoria and her donations are brilliant, we are so grateful to her. I’m sure everything will sell quickly and raise funds for the Clean Start Appeal.”

The Red Cross is currently asking people to donate unwanted goods to its shops which can be sold to raise funds for the Clean Start Appeal, which hopes to bring clean water and safe sanitation to 380,000 people in Kenya and Bangladesh.

This appeal is different from the charity’s usual emergency fundraising drives because the UK government* is matching the amount donated until April 3. An average bag of donated stock is worth £25, which would double to £50 under the Clean Start Appeal – enough to pay for a latrine set for two families in Bangladesh.

More than 3.5 million people die needlessly each year from diseases, such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid, due to lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate toilets and poor hygiene. In Kenya and Bangladesh, 37 million people currently live without access to clean water.


British Red Cross chief executive, Mike Adamson, said: “We need your help to bring clean water to people who desperately need it. Please consider bringing a bag to your local Red Cross shop, and we can double the difference you make by supporting our lifesaving work overseas which includes preparing communities for disaster and tackling hunger and food insecurity.”


International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: “More than one in six people worldwide lack access to safe water and billions live without basic sanitation. It is a sad and eye-opening reality that every 20 seconds a child dies as the result of poor hygiene practices.

“By matching public donations to the British Red Cross’s appeal we will give impoverished communities in Kenya and Bangladesh improved water and sanitation access.

“This will provide nearly 400,000 people with life-saving support by introducing water points and toilets for schools and households, as well as education in good sanitation practices.”


The Red Cross has 340 shops nationwide – to find your nearest shop, to donate, or to find out more about the appeal visit



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Notes to editors

*Caveats for cash and stock donations made by the UK public:

From the sale of goods donated from 4 January to 3 April 2015, up to a maximum of £5 million. Goods must be sold by 18 April 2015. The sale of donated goods will help fund our work overseas. For every pound we make from the sale of donated goods the government will give another pound to provide safe water for people in Kenya and Bangladesh. Any sales after this time cannot be matched by the government but will be used for our work to help people in crisis. 

All public donations made to the Clean Start Appeal from 4 January to 3 April 2015 will be doubled by the UK government up to £5 million. Your donation to Clean Start will help fund our work overseas. For every pound you give the government will give another pound to provide safe water for people in Kenya and Bangladesh. Any donations banked after 3 April cannot be matched but will be used to support our overseas work. Under Gift Aid we can claim an extra 25p of tax for every £1 donated. Gift Aid income cannot be matched. For more information please visit


The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.


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